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Bus driver in 10 Freeway crash works for firm with violation

A First Transit driver in Texas had been cited for not carrying required medical paperwork, a violation that investigators consider serious.

September 11, 2013|By Laura J. Nelson

The bus driver who crashed into a wall on the 10 Freeway Tuesday night, injuring eight people, is employed by a company with a previous violation that investigators consider serious, records show.

Driver Myrna Castillo works for First Transit Inc., an Ohio company that contracts with Foothill Transit to operate the agency's fleet of 314 buses, a spokeswoman said.

In February, an investigator cited a First Transit driver in Texas for not carrying required medical paperwork on the bus, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records. The violation is considered serious because a physical inspection is required for a commercial driver's license.

Just before 9 p.m. Tuesday, Castillo was driving west on the 10 Freeway when she either fell asleep or had a medical emergency, officials said. The Foothill Transit Silver Streak bus crashed into the freeway's noise barrier, ricocheted across all lanes of traffic and hit the center barrier before stopping in the carpool lane.

"The driver did lose consciousness," Foothill Transit spokeswoman Felicia Friesema said. "Whether that was because she fell asleep or because there was a health implication, we're not really sure."

Castillo has been placed on paid leave. She has been driving Foothill Transit routes for various companies since 2001, according to Maurice Harris, a spokesman for First Transit, and has been with the company for about a year.

Harris declined to comment on the medical emergency officials said may have caused the crash, saying First Transit would “wait for the results before reaching any conclusions.”

Seven people, including Castillo, were treated for minor injuries. One passenger sustained more serious cuts, probably because he or she was sitting next to a window when the bus struck the retaining wall, said Battalion Chief John Cermak of the Alhambra Fire Department.

"How it didn't hit any other cars, I'm not quite sure," Cermak said.

The general manager of the Arcadia bus yard, which maintains the bus, declined to comment.

Foothill Transit is cooperating with a California Highway Patrol investigation, Friesema said, including providing footage from an onboard camera.

laura.nelson@latimes.com

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