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Multiple Law Violations Cited in Bus Tragedy

August 04, 1987|LOUIS SAHAGUN | Times Staff Writer

BARSTOW — California Highway Patrol officials said Monday that a Los Angeles tour company and a bus driver involved in an accident that killed seven people and injured five others were in violation of as many as 30 state and federal laws.

"Some of these are minor infractions," CHP Chief Robert Hill said after a press conference here. "Collectively, they scare the hell out of me."

Hill said CHP officials have recommended that the San Bernardino County district attorney's office file criminal and civil charges ranging from failing to have required government permits to manslaughter against the company, Doremi Tours of Los Angeles, and the driver, Sung Il Kim, 31. Formal charges could be filed within two weeks, CHP officials said.

"There is no indication that this company was dealing from a position of ignorance," Hill said. "They were very knowledgeable about what they were doing."

The crash occurred May 20, when the 14-seat van, which was returning Korean-speaking passengers to Los Angeles from Las Vegas, went out of control, overturned and smashed into a center divider on Interstate 15 about 45 miles southwest of Las Vegas, authorities said.

Hill said the CHP has recommended that the district attorney file charges against Kim for making an unsafe turn, driving at excessive speed, failing to make daily vehicle inspections, and manslaughter. The CHP also recommended that the company be charged with failing to have proper state and federal operating authority and failing to have required log books, vehicle repair records and driver qualification files, among other things.

Alan Vertun, an attorney handling civil matters for Doremi Tours, which now is reportedly defunct, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Attorney Arnold Klein, who is in charge of the company's defense on the criminal charges, said that the CHP press conference suggested to him that prosecutors are encountering difficulty in building a strong case against his client.

"It is a common ploy when a case is weak for law enforcement to call a press conference to force the D.A. to file charges," Klein said.

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