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Southern California Bus Crash Kills Five

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Soledad, CAAt least 5 French tourists are reported dead from a bus crash that happened Tuesday afternoon on highway 101 near Soledad, California. The bus overturned on an overpass, for reasons yet to be determined. However, the accident was reportedly so violent that 4 passengers were thrown from the bus, with 1 person landing on the railroad tracks some 60 to 70 feet below the side of the road.

Bus CrashThat passenger and 2 others died at the scene, while 2 others died at hospitals.

Several children under the age of 18 were among the dozens of injured, including a girl of 13 who was one of 7 passengers airlifted to hospitals in the San Francisco area and Fresno. In an interview with the Associated Press, California Highway Patrol spokesman Brian Wiest called the accident a tragedy. "It's certainly one of worst I've seen in a long time," he said.

The bus was carrying 36 people, including 34 tourists from France, a Canadian tour guide and the American driver. The driver was not killed. The tourists were en route from San Francisco to Los Angeles where they were due to fly home. They had been in California since April 19, visiting various sites including Monterey and Carmel.

The bus belongs to Orion Pacific, a family owned, luxury charter coach company based in Orange, CA.

Officials from the French consulate arrived at the scene late Tuesday afternoon, and the highway was closed in both directions for several hours. Investigations into the cause of the accident and Orion Pacific's safety record are underway.

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