Bus company failed 36% of inspections

A company linked to a tour bus involved in a crash in Southern California that killed at least eight people failed more than a third of federal vehicle safety inspections in the past two years, records obtained Monday show.

The cause of the Sunday crash east of Los Angeles remained under investigation. Dozens of people were injured.

The bus was carrying dozens of men, women and children from Tijuana, Mexico, who had spent Sunday at a winter recreation area, authorities said.

The crash left State Route 38 littered with body parts and debris, and the bus sideways across both lanes with its windows blown out, front end crushed and part of the roof peeled back like a tin can.

It occurred when the speeding bus rear-ended a sedan on a mountain road, flipped and hit a pickup truck, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Mario Lopez.

Investigators will determine if mechanical failure or driver error was to blame. The bus driver, who survived but was injured, told investigators the vehicle had brake problems.

"It appears speed was a factor in this collision," Lopez said.

Lettering on the 1996 bus indicated it was operated by Scapadas Magicas LLC, based in National City, California.

Federal transportation records show the company is licensed to carry passengers for interstate travel and that it had no crashes in the past two years. But inspection reports posted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration show brake issues were noted in at least three inspections since October 2011.

The records show the bus involved in the crash was flagged eight times for maintenance problems as recently as October.

Buses operated by the firm flunked 36 per cent of random inspections on its vehicles, in some cases for brake and tire problems, the U.S. government records indicate. That's higher than the national average for similar companies, a 21 per cent failure rate.

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