The bus went up a dirt embankment just north of Road 630. The driver then swerved back onto the highway and crossed the south and northbound lanes before hitting a tree.
Sgt. Edward Greene of the California Highway Patrol said, "The tree was the only thing that stopped the vehicle from careening about 75 feet down a ravine." Greene says the 17th person on the bus, the driver, 49-year-old Changefeng Liu works for a Burlingame based tour company was taking tourists back to the bay area from Yosemite. At about 6 p.m. on Saturday the bus veered off the roadway.
"We are looking at the bus not being on all four wheels, it's up on the embankment on two wheels, all the passengers on the right side of the bus fell from their side of the bus onto the passengers on the left side of the bus," Greene said.
Liu told investigators the bus had mechanical problems but passengers on board had a very different account. They claim Liu was speeding. Some on board told the CHP officers they asked him to drive slower several times before the crash and some even got car sick.
"Upon examination inside the bus after the accident there was quite a bit of vomit all over inside the bus where the passengers were becoming sick," Greene said.
CHP says Liu is being cooperative and has no history of being a bad driver.
"He has a clean driving record. He states after the collision that he had a mechanical problem with the right front steering," Green said.
Sixteen people were taken to nearby hospitals and treated for minor to moderate injuries. If Liu is found at fault he could be cited for driving at unsafe speeds for the road conditions.
Investigators will examine that tour bus tomorrow to determine if there were any mechanical problems.