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Sleep apnea blamed for a deadly Southern California bus crash

A panel of investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced on Tuesday, Oct. 31 that they've completed their investigation into a 2016 Southern California bus crash. They determined that driver fatigue was the primary contributing factor for the crash.

On the day of the accident, a bus driver was reportedly driving westbound along Interstate 10 en route back to Los Angeles. He had taken a group of individuals to a casino and was nearing Palm Springs at the time.

It's along this route that the 51-year-old operator of the bus fell asleep just before dawn. He crashed his bus into the rear portion of a tractor-trailer. The collision resulted in 13 passenger deaths and at least 30 other's injuries.

NTSB investigators determined that it was unlikely that the man hadn't slept during the 24 hours prior to the crash. They also noted that, if that was indeed the case, then the man had also violated federal maximum hours of service regulations as well.

In the course of their investigation, it was also determined that the bus' driver suffered from both undiagnosed diabetes and sleep apnea. Those diagnosed with the latter often experience either interrupted or shallow breathing, resulting in perpetual patient fatigue.

These medical conditions coupled with the man's lack of sleep and breaks within the 24 hours prior to his crash all created the perfect scenario for a fatal crash like this to occur. An NTSB spokesperson noted that 10 other passenger train or bus accidents during the better part of the past two decades have also been found to have been caused by sleep apnea.

The bus driver in this deadly crash has since been charged with vehicular manslaughter for the 13 passengers killed in this crash. It's unclear if civil lawsuits will be filed against the man as well.

If you've been seriously injured as a passenger on public transportation, then a San Bernardino bus accident attorney can advise you of your right to file a lawsuit in your case.

Source: Reuters, "U.S. safety board blames deadly California bus crash on two sleepy drivers," David Shepardson, Oct. 31, 2017

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