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Highway bus accident leaves 13 dead, dozens injured

On the opposite end of the nation from Central Islip, a nightmare unfolded for passengers sleeping on a tour bus headed back to Los Angeles from a trip to a casino. As the bus rolled along an interstate highway in predawn hours toward home, it slammed into the back of an 18-wheeler.

Thirteen people died in the crash and dozens more were injured, law enforcement officials said of the bus accident early Sunday morning near Palm Springs, California.

The tractor-trailer was going just 5 mph on the highway at the time of the collision, apparently slowed to pass a highway maintenance crew. The bus was traveling at significantly higher speed when it hit the truck from behind at about 5:17 a.m.

"The speed of the bus was so significant that when it hit the back of the big-rig trailer, the trailer itself entered about 15 feet into the bus," a law enforcement official said of the violent crash.

The first six rows of the bus were crushed, a surviving passenger told a newspaper. Another passenger said she "was awakened by the sounds of people screaming for help."

State highway patrol officers said it was the worst accident they had ever seen.

Officials said they do not yet know why the bus did not slow or stop before colliding with the big rig, but said they are not ruling out factors involved in many commercial motor vehicle accidents, including driver fatigue, distraction, intoxication, speed and mechanical failure.

News reports indicated that the 1996 bus was apparently inspected earlier this year, with no major problems reported.

No one yet knows why this crash occurred, but we do know that for victims and victims' families, the damage can never be undone.

A personal injury attorney experienced in truck and bus accident litigation can help protect rights as maximum compensation for all damages is pursued.

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