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2.21.2011

driver killed, ten injured in church youth group bus crash


Terrible, tragic news out of Southern California... Earlier today, a bus carrying a Korean church youth group home from a weekend retreat collided with another vehicle and crashed down a steep embankment, killing the driver and injuring at least ten passengers: Driver dies, 10 seriously hurt as bus careens down a mountainside near Lake Arrowhead.

The bus, belonging to Light of Love Mission Church in Pasadena, was headed down a windy, treacherous part of California 189 outside Twin Peaks in the Lake Arrowhead region when it lost control, collided with an SUV traveling in the other direction, and plunged 25 feet down the mountain into a grove of trees:
The driver of the bus, identified by the San Bernardino County coroner as 61-year-old Won Seok Chae of Los Angeles, was pronounced dead at the scene. John Cho, a deacon at the Light of Love Mission Church, described Chae as a professional tour bus driver who volunteered to drive the church's bus on weekends. He said Chae was licensed, but did not know if the driver was currently working or had retired.

The coroner's office released a statement late Monday saying that Chae had lost control of the bus as it rounded the curve, crossed into the oncoming lane and struck the other vehicle.

Twenty-two people — most of them teenagers — were aboard the bus, which was not equipped with seat belts. Dozens of firefighters, police and paramedics quickly swarmed the scene. Rescuers had to use special metal-cutting tools to remove seats from the bus in order to extract some of the passengers.
My condolences to the family of the driver. It sounds like it was a horrific, traumatic scene. There were 23 survivors, with ten people reportedly listed in critical condition. Considering that there were no seat belts on the bus, and the crumpled condition of the bus after the crash, it's a blessing it wasn't a lot worse. More here: No seat belts on church bus involved in fatal crash.