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One Dead in Crestline Mountain Crash of Korean Church Bus Loaded With Teens

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Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 4:59 PM

click to enlarge The area of the crash. - GOOGLE MAPS
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  • The area of the crash.
Updated after the jump: The deceased has been identified; the CHP states that the bus veered into oncoming traffic.

Two people died when what appeared to be a church bus loaded with teenagers went over a mountain road in Crestline in the San Bernardino Mountains Monday afternoon.

The crash at highway 189 at Lake Gregory Drive was reported about 11:51 a.m. just after 1 p.m., according to Calfire. Two fatalities were confirmed at 1:40 p.m. Fire officials said about 25 "children" were on-board, but the ages of the deceased were as yet unknown.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported that the bus appeared to be operated by a Korean church.


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According to Calfire the bus appeared to have gone about 20 feet off a snow covered mountain and as many as 20 people had been trapped inside following the accident.

Update: The Press-Enterprise reports that the bus had collided with a fire chief's truck on the highway.

Three people were hospitalized in critical condition, according to the paper, which had about 27 people on aboard the bus.

The Los Angeles Times states that 24 people were injured.

Update No. 2: KNX 1070 Newsradio reports the bus belonged to Light of Love Mission Church in Pasadena.

The CHP reports that power lines downed by the crash hampered rescuers.

According to City News Service the bus apparently hit an ice patch on the road, hit the fire vehicle, plunged off the road and hit a tree.

Brian Paik, who administers the church's Facebook page, told the Pasadena Star-News:

"Some junior high and high school students that regularly attend our church went up for a church retreat. This happened on their way down."

Calfire reported late this afternoon that a total of 24 people had been hospitalized.

Update No. 3: Vernal Schultz witnessed the accident, heard "cries for help," and rescued a 9-year-old girl, he told ABC7.

"I see blood just basically everywhere you look there," he said. "I didn't see one person without blood on them."

Update No. 4: CHP spokesman Mario Lopez told reporters at the scene that one person was found deceased at the accident site and that two others had to be airlifted to a hospital.

He seemed to dispute the idea that the bus had skidded on ice:

"There was no ice or snow on the roadway at the time of the collision."

He said the bus was traveling west and that a Nissan Murano was headed east when the accident occurred.

ABC7 described the passengers on the bus as "middle school students."

Update No. 5: The Press-Enterprise reports that 24 people were injured, 10 seriously, and three critically. One person died.

The bus did indeed collided with a Nissan Murano, and not with the fire vehicle, as originally reported, according to the paper. However, sources told the publication that an off-duty fire battalion chief and his wife were injured in the collision.

The crash capped off a three-day mountain retreat at the nearby Pine Crest Christian Conference Center.

Update No. 6: The driver of the bus was the sole fatality. No identity has been released.

Update No. 7: The driver was identified by the CHP as 61-year-old Won Seok Chae.

An initial CHP report indicates that the bus driver veered into oncoming traffic for reasons unkown:

"Based on the physical evidence at the collision scene, it appears the bus drifted into the opposing lane colliding into the Nissan. The reason for the bus driving left of the double yellow lines is still under investigation. After colliding into the Nissan, the bus veered to the right traveling off the roadway and colliding into a power pole. After breaking the power pole, the bus continued forward down the mountainside hitting several small trees before colliding into a large cedar tree that ultimately stopped the bus."

First posted at 2:42 p.m. Monday

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