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Three killed, 18 injured when charter bus veers off I-15 and rolls down embankment in San Diego County

Los Angeles Times logo Los Angeles Times 2/22/2020 By Phil Diehl, Greg Morgan, Los Angeles Times

Three people were killed and 18 others injured Saturday when a charter bus veered off a rain-slicked Interstate 15 and rolled down an embankment in north San Diego County, authorities said.

The crash occurred in the southbound lanes south of state Route 76 about 10:20 a.m., according to the North County Fire Protection District.

The driver apparently swerved and lost control, veering off the highway and rolling down an embankment, with the bus landing on its roof, said California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Latulippe.

Emergency workers were sent to rescue several people trapped in the wreckage.

Three people died at the scene, with one victim still trapped inside the bus, said Fire Chief Stephen Abbott. Eighteen others were transported to hospitals, officials said. Four of them were critically wounded. Their ages were not released.

The bus driver, a man from Whittier, suffered minor injuries and remained at the scene, Latulippe said.

Fire district spokesman John Choi said the cause of the accident was not known, but it did not appear that any other vehicle was involved. It was raining at the time of the crash, according to CHP.

It was not immediately clear where the bus was headed. The bus was carrying a total of 22 people but had a capacity to hold at least a dozen more, Abbott said. Authorities declined to identify the owner of the bus.

Units from Cal Fire, Vista Fire, Camp Pendleton and Pala assisted in the rescue, he said.

Southbound freeway traffic was expected to be slow and difficult for hours. One lane of I-15 remained closed, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Crews were working to pull the bus from the embankment and recover the body still inside.

Diehl and Morgan write for the San Diego Union-Tribune

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