Passenger injured in tour bus crash in Valley Center speaks from hospital

Bus was en route to Harrah's Rincon Casino

SAN DIEGO - A passenger who was injured after a bus contracted by Harrah's Rincon Casino crashed in Valley Center spoke with 10News on Saturday.

Fifteen people were on the tour bus when it crashed Thursday into the lawn of a farmhouse in the 29500 block of Valley Center Road. The bus was en route to Harrah's Rincon Casino.

The passenger, who wanted to be identified only as Mike, told 10News, "The back of the bus fishtailed and we winded up going out of control and going off the road."

Mike and his wife Diane, who wanted to only provide their first names, said the bus was traveling at about 60 to 65 miles per hour when it crashed, which is quite a different story than what the driver told the California Highway Patrol after the crash.

"The driver said he was doing about 30 miles an hour into the turn," said CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt.

Eight people were injured and transported to the hospital, including Mike and Diane. He says they were thrown around the bus like rag dolls.

"When the bus went over the bump, I was thrown up into the air and smashed my head on the ceiling, unfortunately, so I sustained a pretty bad concussion," said Mike. "My wife was thrown from her seat over my head and landed just in front of where the bathroom area is."

The couple remains hospitalized at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido.

Mike may be released on Sunday, but it could be weeks before his wife is released. She suffered a broken ankle, fractured tibia and fibula, broken pelvis, broken sternum and four broken ribs. On Sunday, she underwent surgery for her broken ankle.

"What we were amazed by is that the casino itself didn't seem to care," said Mike. "The bus line didn't seem to care and the insurance company that handles the insurance for the bus line didn't seem to care."

Mike and his wife are now considering taking legal action as their hospital bills are skyrocketing.

10News contacted Silver State Trailways, the operator of the bus contracted by Harrah's. They referred us to the American Bus Association for comment.

Don Ronan, who is with the American Bus Association, told 10News that Silver State was a very reputable company with a long track record of service which is insured by a very reputable insurance company.

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