A Baja California tour company issued an apology Monday in the aftermath of a San Bernardino County crash that killed seven people -- three of them from San Diego -- and injured dozens of others aboard a bus leased from a South Bay company.
Officials with Tijuana-based InterBus Tours & Charters stated on their Facebook page, in Spanish and English, that they "deeply regret" the accident involving a group of their customers "coming down from the mountains of Big Bear" on Highway 38 in Mentone on Sunday evening.
The bus, owned by Scapadas Magicas of National City, hit a car and a pickup truck and overturned about 6:30 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol and fire department officials.
Among those killed in the wreck were San Diego residents Victor Cabrera Garcia, 13; Elvira Garcia Jimenez, 40; and Guadalupe Olivas, 61.
In all, 43 people were involved in the crash -- 38 passengers and the driver on the bus, and two each in the other vehicles. A triage area was set up to treat the patients at the scene before they were taken to hospitals, some with life-threatening injuries.
Initial evidence suggested that the brakes on the tour coach gave out, according to an official with InterBus, which was leasing the vehicle from Scapadas Magicas.
The owner-operator of the bus failed more than one-third of its government vehicle-safety inspections in the past two years, sometimes due to problems with brakes and tires, according to published reports. Its safety history ranks in the bottom one-quarter of comparable U.S. companies, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records show.
Due to those ongoing maintenance problems, Scapadas Magicas had been flagged for possible "intervention action and roadside inspection," according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Monday morning, the National Transportation Safety Board sent an investigative team to San Bernardino County to gather and document evidence about the crash, and determine its cause.