Charges filed in deadly bus crash near Atwater

FILE: Four people were killed in a crash on Highway 99 near Liberty Drive on August 2, 2016. (Ryan Hudgins/KMPH)

The Merced County District Attorney’s office filed four felony counts of vehicular manslaughter and five misdemeanor vehicle code violations against Mario David Vasquez of Los Angeles.

Vasquez was driving a tour bus on August 2nd of 2016 outside Livingston when he left the roadway and crashed into a pole, splitting the bus down the middle.

The crash killed four passengers and seriously injured eight others.

The CHP investigated the crash and determined the driver began his shift at 7:30 p.m. and crashed around 3:18 a.m., nearly 8 hours later.

The log book kept by Vasquez showed he slept only 6 1/2 hours before driving, but District Attorney Larry D. Morse II says cell phone records contradict that.

The District Attorney believes Vasquez was fatigued, which led to the deadly crash.

The misdemeanor violations stem from the defendant’s falsification of his daily log book, failure to keep accurate records and violating laws relating to maximum driving time for commercial drivers.

“Given their size and the potential dangers 18-wheelers and buses pose for other motorists, commercial drivers are appropriately held to the highest standards for safety under state law. Mr. Vasquez’s extreme fatigue, violations of commercial regulations and repeated use of a cell phone while entrusted with the care of passengers demonstrated a gross dereliction of the duty he owed not just to his passengers, but to every motorist on Highway 99 that morning,” Morse said.

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