Truck Driver Charged In Tragic Palm Springs Tour Bus Crash That Killed 13

by Jana Ritter - Published: 11/21/2017

It’s been just over a year since the fatal semi-truck and tour bus crash that killed 13 people and injured 31 in the California desert and now the truck driver involved in the incident is facing a slew of charges. Bruce Guilford, 51, was recently arrested in his home state of Georgia and transported to Riverside County, CA where he is being charged with more than 40 felony and misdemeanor counts, including vehicular manslaughter.

                                        Truck driver charged in Palm Springs tour bus crash

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The horrific accident occurred on Oct. 23, 2016 during the dark early morning hours as a tour bus full of passengers was traveling westbound on I-10, returning to Los Angeles after a trip to a desert town casino. The bus approached a portion of the highway where traffic had just started to move again after being stopped while Southern California Edison workers pulled wires across the road. Guildford's rig had been amongst the stopped vehicles and according to investigators, he had fallen asleep in his rig with his parking brakes on while waiting for the traffic to resume. When the lanes were re-opened and the other vehicles began to move, Guildford's truck remained stopped for more than a minute as the tour bus approached from behind at 76 mph.

                                       tour bus crash kills 13 in California

Investigators also determined that the bus driver, Teodulo Elias Vides, was mostly at fault for failing to see the rig and react accordingly in the 20 seconds he had to respond. Instead, he crashed the tour bus into the back of rig  and died instantly along with 12 passengers riding in the front rows. An earlier NTSB report revealed that Vides had slept only about four hours in the 35 hours preceding the crash and that on the day of the crash Guilford was on his second round trip delivery job from Alabama to Salinas within two weeks. 

According to the details of the CHP report, he had previously driven the route from Oct. 8 to Oct. 18 and then immediately departed for a second trip on Oct. 19. The CHP report then alleges that Guilford not only violated maximum driving-time regulations but also tried to hide the violations by falsifying his log records. While he was “not the party determined to be most at fault for this collision” ... the nearly nonstop driving resulted “in acute sleep deprivation” and his falling asleep behind the wheel “was a substantial factor in the deaths of 13 individuals,” said the report.

Last month the NTSB also concluded that both Guildford and Vides were sleep deprived. “In this crash, not one but two commercial vehicle drivers — people who drive for a living — were unable to respond appropriately to cues that other motorists did act on,” NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt said.

Guilford is likely to appear in court for his arraignment on Wednesday.

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