Team 10 investigates bus company's safety record

Bus owned by Scapadas Magicas involved in crash

SAN DIEGO - A company whose tour bus crashed on Highway 38 in San Bernardino County -- killing seven people -- has failed more than one-third of federal vehicle inspections, Team 10 learned.

U.S. government records show that buses owned by National City-based Scapada Magicas flunked 36 percent of random federal inspections on their vehicles, in some cases for brake and tire problems.

The company's failure rate is higher than the national average -- 21 percent failure rate -- for similar companies.

Records obtained by Team 10 also show the company had no crashes in the past two years.

The company had an overall "satisfactory" rating from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, but records show three-quarters of similar companies had better safety records.

Due to ongoing maintenance problems, Scapadas Magicas had been flagged for possible "intervention action and roadside inspection," according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

On Monday morning, the National Transportation Safety Board announced that it was sending an investigative team to San Bernardino County to gather and document evidence about the crash, and determine its cause.

Bus terminals in the state of California also have to undergo a state inspection by the California Highway Patrol.

Team 10's cameras were rolling Monday as Jeff Blaylock with the CHP inspected a tour bus owned by a company based in San Ysidro.

"I'm checking for safety items, steering suspension, brakes, tires, wheels, that sort of thing. Making sure these components are in good shape," said Blaylock.

There are 1,137 bus companies represented in San Diego, Imperial and Orange counties, and they get yearly inspections. The CHP does several hundred roadside inspections as well.

"What people like Jeff do on a daily basis can mean the difference between life and death," said Sgt. Dave Dreher with the CHP's on-highway commercial enforcement division program.

Team 10 was told Scapada Magicas' safety rating was listed as satisfactory in its last CHP inspection.

Blaylock did not inspect the bus involved in Sunday's crash because the company is in a different CHP district.

The crash still has him shook up.

"I get worried. I look at who the company is. If they are in my area, I start to question myself. Did I do a thorough inspection? Did I look at all the paperwork? Was there something I could have missed? So I take it kind of personal," said Blaylock.

Team 10 requested the most recent inspection report on Scapdas Magicas and is still waiting on that report to be released by the state.

Initial evidence suggested that the brakes on the tour coach gave out, according to an official with InterBus Tours & Charters, which was leasing the bus from Scapadas Magicas.

InterBus Tours & Charters stated on their Facebook page, in Spanish and English, that they "deeply regret" the accident involving a group of their customers "coming down from the mountains of Big Bear" on Highway 38 in Yucaipa on Sunday evening.

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