Tour Bus Company In Pala Crash Failed Safety Inspections

The company that operates the tour bus that crashed Sunday night near the city of Pala in northern San Diego failed California Highway Patrol safety inspections four times since 2011.

According to CHP, the "Polar Express" company received a satisfactory ranking in January 2013, but it received unsatisfactory safety reports from the CHP in August 2011, December 2011, March 2012 and July 2012.

The bus was headed from Los Angeles to the Casino Pauma with 18 passengers on board, all from the L.A. area.

The driver told officials that the brakes failed going around a curve. The bus struck a guard rail and careened to the right, crashing into trees and boulders before coming to a stop.

Ten people, including the driver, were taken to Palomar Hospital. Officials said the most serious injury was a laceration to the head. All of those passengers have been discharged from the hospital.

Casino Pauma provided a phone number for the "Polar Express" bus company, but a woman reached at the phone number provided said it was a wrong number and the establishment reached was a Chinese food restaurant.

The accident happened just before 11 p.m. Sunday on Pala Temecula Road near Arouba Road.

CHP said it does not appear alcohol played a role in the crash.

“We don’t really know any of the history of the company right now,” Officer Jim Bettencourt said. “Everything is still pretty fresh.”

NBC7 Investigates has requested copies of the unsatisfactory safety reports, as well as the bus inspection reports. An official with CHP said they are processing the request.

“Once we’re able to get the bus out of here, we’re going to do a full mechanical investigation on it to determine if there was anything else wrong with the bus, if it was mechanical or driver error,” he said.

The driver was 58-year-old Danhill Wong of El Monte. The 1996 tour bus is registered to Wong’s address, according to public records.

Part of Pala Temecula Road was closed for hours while officials were on-scene.

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