Driver in Bus Crash That Killed 4 Last Year Is Charged

Reports say he was drowsy, used cellphone before accident that nearly cut bus in half
August 1, 2017 Updated: August 1, 2017

Prosecutors filed felony vehicular manslaughter charges against a California bus driver who crashed a bus last year, killing four people.

The bus was torn nearly in half after it crashed into a large highway sign in Merced County near Atwater. The incident occurred nearly one year ago on Aug. 2, 2016.

Merced County District Attorney’s office on Monday filed the charges against driver Mario David Vasquez, CBS News reported. A California Highway Patrol investigation later found that Vasquez slept about 6.5 hours the previous day.

Officials said that he violated laws related to the maximum amount a commercial driver can drive.

The DA’s office also alleged that he used a cellphone numerous times while driving through California, KCRA reported. He made a call a few minutes before the accident, District Attorney Larry D. Morse II said.

KCRA also reported that he had three tickets in four years.

Vasquez, who was driving a bus owned by Autobuses Coordinados USA Inc., looked tired and drowsy during the trip, surviving passengers told KCRA. Drivers said that his bus was weaving before the crash.

“Given their size and the potential dangers 18-wheelers and buses pose for other motorists, commercial drivers are appropriately held to the highest standards for safety under state law. Mr. Vasquez’s extreme fatigue, violations of commercial regulations and repeated use of a cellphone while entrusted with the care of passengers demonstrated a gross dereliction of the duty he owed not just to his passengers, but to every motorist on Highway 99 that morning,” Morse told the station.