NTSB begins on-scene investigation into fatal bus crash

Image 1 of 5

The National Transportation Safety Board has obtained a camera from a Greyhound bus that crashed Tuesday morning on U.S. Highway 101 in South San Jose, killing two women and injuring more than a dozen other passengers.

The camera will be part of the federal agency's independent investigation into the fatal crash of a 2014 Motor Coach Industries bus that carried 20 passengers, NTSB investigator in charge Jennifer Morrison said.

Morrison spoke during a news conference this afternoon at Barcco's Towing in Gilroy, where the bus was taken to after Tuesday's crash.

The NTSB sent eight investigators who arrived to the Bay Area on Tuesday night for the initial on-scene phase of the investigation, Morrison said.

The team will be looking into multiple aspects surrounding the crash, including the vehicle and its condition, the driver and his actions leading up to the accident, Greyhound's compliance with federal regulations, the roadway design and the use of seatbelts, Morrison said.

Over the next few days, NTSB investigators will also meet with personnel from the California Highway Patrol, Greyhound, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Caltrans, Morrison said.

The two women who died in the crash were identified as 51-year-old Fely Olivera of San Francisco and 76-year-old Maria De Jesus Ortiz Velasquez of Salinas, according to the Santa Clara County medical examiner's office.

The bus was traveling on northbound Highway 101 heading toward the high occupancy vehicle connector ramp to northbound state Highway 85 at about 6:40 a.m., CHP officials said.

The driver, 58-year-old Gary Bonslater of Victorville, struck multiple attenuator barrels at the ramp's base, leading the bus to overturn and land on a concrete median, according to the CHP.

The two women were ejected from the bus and were pronounced dead at the scene, CHP officials said.

Nearly a dozen people were transported to hospitals following the crash, including an 8-year-old boy for precautionary reasons, according to the CHP.

Bonslater suffered moderate injuries and was taken to a hospital, where he was treated and later released, according to the CHP.   

The driver told investigators he felt fatigued and drank coffee after dropping off passengers in Gilroy before the crash, CHP officials said.

Witnesses told officers that the bus was traveling at the speed limit, according to the CHP.

The NTSB hopes to interview the driver as part of its investigation. A meeting with him is still pending, Morrison said.

The agency's probe will not determine a probable cause of the crash but will be used to help prevent future accidents, according to Morrison.

The bus was No. 86558 on schedule 6876 that left Los Angeles at 11:30 p.m. Monday with stops in Gilroy, San Jose and San Francisco before its scheduled arrival in Oakland, according to Greyhound officials.

The bus carrier company is cooperating with the investigation and is conducting its own review of the crash, Greyhound spokeswoman Lanesha Gipson said.

Lanes were closed for most of the day Tuesday and into the evening commute, according to the CHP.

Drugs, alcohol and the rainy weather are not suspected as factors in the crash, CHP officials said.