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Alhambra crash: Company has recent driver violation, records show

September 11, 2013|By Laura J. Nelson

The Foothill Transit bus driver who crashed Tuesday night on the 10 Freeway in Alhambra, injuring eight people, works for an outside company with a recent driver-related violation, federal records show.

Driver Myrna Castillo of El Monte is employed by First Transit Inc., an Ohio-based company that operates Foothill Transit’s fleet of 314 buses, a spokeswoman said.

In February, an investigator found that a First Transit driver in Texas was not carrying a medical certificate, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records. The violation is considered serious because all commercial vehicle operators are required to pass a health inspection.

Overall, First Transit has reported fewer accidents and violations than the national average, records show. 

Just before 9 p.m. Tuesday, Castillo either fell asleep at the wheel or had a medical emergency, officials said. The Silver Streak bus crashed into the noise barrier on the westbound 10 Freeway, ricocheted across all lanes of traffic and hit the center barrier before coming to rest in the carpool lane.

“The driver did lose consciousness,” Foothill Transit spokeswoman Felicia Friesema told The Times. “Whether that was because she fell asleep or because there was a health implication, we’re not really sure.”

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, Cermak said.

The bus's right-hand windows shattered, Friesema said, and a tire blew out.

The general manager of the Arcadia bus yard, where the Silver Streak bus was based, declined to comment.

The accident is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol. Foothill Transit and First Transit are cooperating,  Friesema said, including providing footage from an onboard camera.

The accident blocked all westbound traffic on the 10 for two hours Tuesday night.

Foothill Transit is a multicity transportation agency that serves the San Gabriel Valley.

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