An argument on a Santa Cruz party bus may have led to a woman being killed on Highway 17 and the roadway subsequently being shut down near Los Gatos early Saturday morning.
The CHP said that around midnight, a few drunken passengers began arguing on the bus while it was on the highway and after the situtation escalated, somehow, two women were ejected from the vehicle.
Of the two women, one of them, 25-year-old Natasha Noland of Santa Cruz, died and the bus rolled over her, and the other woman, 20-years-old, was sent to San Jose Valley Medical Center with moderate injuries.
Around 2 a.m., police closed state Highway 17 between Lark Avenue and state Highway 9 to traffic to conduct further police investigation.
CHP investigators talked to the bus driver, finding that he was completely sober at the time of the accident and didn't appear to be at fault.
Somehow the door opened on the bus and the two people involved in the altercation fell out of the bus…While it was moving at approximately 45-50 miles an hour, said California Highway Patrol officer D.J. Sabarian.
“There are two mechanisms for the door to open, either manually with the bus driver pulling the lever or the emergency lever that's near the door,” Sabarian said.
As for the 12 to 15 passengers on the bus at the time of the accident, investigators told KTVU that most of them were intoxicated, which made it difficult to obtain witness statements.
The roadway reopened to traffic around 6 a.m., according to the CHP.
Earlier this year, San Mateo Assemblyman Jerry Hill introduced a bill that would require party buses to verify the age of passengers to make sure minors don't drink on board.
"This raises the problem to a new level,” Hill said in regards to Saturday's events.
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