A rental car shuttle bus with faulty brakes triggered a 16-car accident near Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday that left at least 16 people injured, nine of them seriously, authorities said.
The injured were occupants of vehicles struck by the Alamo Rent-A-Car bus or vehicles involved in the other accidents, police said. The bus was on its first run of the morning and was not carrying any passengers.
Investigators said the bus driver lost control of his vehicle about 8:35 a.m., sideswiping several cars along Aviation Boulevard before crashing into a gas station on West Century Boulevard and slamming into a parked car containing a woman and two young children.
Several other traffic accidents occurred as drivers sought to avoid the bus.
The names of the bus driver and the accident victims were not immediately available.
Fire officials, police officers and eyewitnesses said it was amazing that more people weren't injured. At least 16 people were hurt, nine of whom were sent to hospitals. The severity of the injuries was not immediately known, but one police official said the most serious injury appeared to be a broken leg.
"It was incredible," said Charles Weghikian, the manager of the Texaco station where the bus ultimately came to rest. "We're lucky the driver missed the gas pumps and the station didn't blow up."
Fearing the station might explode, Weghikian told employees and customers to flee. He quickly shut off the electricity after the bus crashed to prevent ignition from a spark.
Weghikian said the mother of the two young children in the car crushed by the bus was inside the gas station's mini-mart, looking for a map, when the bus slammed into her car.
Fortunately, the children and the other woman in the car weren't seriously injured, authorities said.
After the accident, traffic was routed away from the intersection of Aviation and Century boulevards for several hours. The incident is under investigation by the LAPD.
Fire spokesman Jim Wells described the accident as a "horrific type of incident" that could have been much worse.
"We were lucky no one was trapped in a vehicle and there was no need for extrication," Wells said.
At one point after losing control, the bus rear-ended a truck and then "went up and over a Honda," according to a police statement on the incident.