No signs, lighting or reduced speed limit were required for utility work done on a stretch of Southern California freeway where a tour bus slammed into a truck, killing 13 people, according to documents released Tuesday.
Southern California Edison Co.'s permit allowed the utility to halt traffic on westbound Interstate 10 near Palm Springs for up to five minutes, five times a day, according to a copy obtained by The Associated Press under a California Public Records Act request. The one-month permit from the state Department of Transportation took effect about five hours before the Oct. 23 crash.
The utility paid the California Highway Patrol just under $3,450 on Oct. 14 to help control traffic. Under their agreement, the highway patrol was to provide 32 hours of officer time over the month and 100 miles of travel.
One of the deadliest vehicle crashes in California history occurred shortly before sunrise when a gambling tour bus with 42 passengers struck the back of a semitrailer when returning to Los Angeles from an overnight trip to the Red Earth Casino on California's Salton Sea. A highway patrol official has said the bus was moving at "freeway speed" when it hit the truck, which was going about 5 mph.
Terri Kasinga, a transportation department spokeswoman, said "a short queue" of vehicles had come to a halt at the time of the crash. She said investigators were looking at whether there were any signs or similar warnings in place, even though they weren't required under the permit.
"Five minutes is a small amount of time," Kasinga said. "If there was anything in excess, you would have seen a completely different permit."
A highway patrol spokesman, Officer Mike Radford, said he couldn't address specifics of the crash but that the agency typically stops traffic by having an officer drive across all lanes with flashing lights while gradually slowing.