2 tour bus crashes kill 1, injure dozens on Interstate 15 (updated)

A screencap of the broadcast by NBC-LA of a tour bus crash on Dec. 19, 2013, on Interstate 15 in Corona.
A screencap of the broadcast by NBC-LA of a tour bus crash on Dec. 19, 2013, on Interstate 15 in Corona.

In a weird coincidence, two tour buses heading to or from casinos overturned on Interstate 15 tens of miles apart and within the same hour on Thursday afternoon, killing one person and injuring dozens.

The first bus was headed for the Valley View Casino when it overturned on the southbound I-15 at State Route 76 in Fallbrook Thursday afternoon, NBC San Diego reported. 

A SigAlert was issued for the crash, which is blocking the right two lanes and backing up traffic at least two hours, as of 3:10 p.m. ... Many of the injured passengers were being transported to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido while others were headed to Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside.

North County Fire tweet

North County Fire tweet

"We had a tour bus crash from Valley View Casino transporting patrons to and from casinos when somehow they lost control and rolled over on the southbound 15," Buchanan told KPCC.

"When we got here, there were 21 people in the bus — there's been one fatality, six immediate, 13 delays, and one got in a car and drove away."

Buchanan added that there were a total of 21 people on the bus, with ages ranging from the 40s to the 60s.

The Corona crash occurred just after 2 p.m. when the bus crashed into the freeway's center divider, Lynn Mata, a spokesman with the Corona Fire Department, told KPCC. The bus was heading from the Pala Casino in San Diego County to Westminster.

All 22 passengers from Westminster were taken to area hospitals, she added. A spokeswoman for Corona Regional Medical Center told the AP that two people were treated for minor injuries. 

"The cause of the accident is unknown but possibly weather related," Mata said.

"Traffic is a mess on Interstate 15," Mata added. "Two of the lanes on northbound 15 are closed because the bus is horizontal into the lanes and the southbound because of the onlooking traffic."

RELATED: KPCC's searchable database of SoCal's commercial bus companies

The second crash led to the closure of Interstate 15 in Corona, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

All northbound traffic and the onramp at Ontario Avenue was being closed at 3:06 p.m., though all but the number one and two lanes were reopened at 3:32 p.m. A SigAlert was also issued.

The Corona crash involved a bus operated by Sina Coach Co. in Westminster, Pala Casino spokesman Jack Taylor told KPCC. It was on its regular route leaving the Pala Casino at 1:30 p.m. headed to Westminster.

The crashes were only the latest of several crashes of tour buses on California highways.

RELATED: NTSB questions oversight following deadly tour bus crash, calls for probe (read the full report)