8 Die in Tour Bus Crash Near Big Bear

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SAM Magazine—Mentone, Calif., Feb. 4, 2013—At least eight people died and 38 were injured in a bus crash Sunday evening on Highway 38, one of the main access roads to Big Bear Lake and its ski areas in southern California.

The passengers, most if not all from Mexico, and many of them medical students and their friends from Tijuana, Mexico, were returning from a skiing and snowboarding trip when the bus began swerving and the driver reported a problem with the brakes. The bus collided with a Saturn sedan, flipped over, and struck a Ford truck that was towing a trailer.

In all, 27 people were taken to area hospitals, at least six of them in critical condition. At least 17 were still hospitalized Monday morning, including at least five in critical condition.

"Speed was probably a factor," said California Highway Patrol officer Mario Lopez. "We do not know if there was a mechanical failure or driver error.” National Safety Transportation Board investigators are on the scene to determine the cause of the accident.

The highway will be closed until Monday evening as the investigation continues, according to the California Department of Transportation.