PALM SPRINGS — A bus that careened off a mountain road last week, killing four Girl Scouts and three other people, had a brake adjustment problem that would have barred it from operating, officials said Monday.
"If the bus had been driving along and had been tested, they (state inspectors) would have said, 'Park it and fix it,' " Palm Springs Police Sgt. Ron Starrs said.
Survivors said the bus driver, who was killed in the crash, shouted that he had lost his brakes before the bus ran off the road and tumbled down a rocky incline.
Starrs said more analysis is needed to determine how that may have contributed to last Wednesday's accident on the winding road from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up Mt. San Jacinto.
Investigators must examine the bus further and consider such factors as driver error, Starrs said.
Initial examination showed that the front brake push rods were out of adjustment, said Starrs. The bus was hauled to a city yard for a further check. The rear brakes have yet to be examined, Starrs said.
He said the extent of the front brake problem meant that the bus would have failed to meet Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance standards. The alliance, made up of all U.S. states and Canadian provinces, works with federal and state agencies to set and enforce standards.
Bus No. 369, owned and operated by Mayflower Contract Services Inc., had a history of brake problems that drew complaints from drivers, police and state officials have said.
Thirteen of the injured remained hospitalized Monday, one in critical condition.