Update: All lanes were reopened on Interstate 10 in Blythe around 5:50 p.m., according to Caltrans.
Original story as follows:
Four people were killed and more than a dozen others were injured Wednesday when a load of steel pipes spilled from a jackknifed big-rig and caused a Los Angeles-bound tour bus to overturn along Interstate 10 near Blythe.
The collision occurred around 2:15 a.m. near a border inspection station east of Blythe, close to the California-Arizona border, according to the California Highway Patrol. The freeway was closed in both directions.
Caltrans spokeswoman Terri Kasinga told City News Service the eastbound truck began to jackknife for unknown reasons, losing its load of steel pipes across the eastbound lanes and into the No. 1 lane on the westbound side. The truck's trailer also overturned on the freeway, but its cab remained standing.
"The tour bus driver veered to try and avoid the pipes but the driver slammed into the pipes and overturned in the westbound lanes," Kasinga said.
Kasinga said four people were confirmed dead.
CHP Officer Jason Girard said three people were airlifted to hospitals, four were transported by ambulance and 14 were taken by bus to be checked out.
Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit expressed his condolences and support for the victims' families, and talked with staff at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, where some of the victims were being treated.
"Riverside County extends its support and stands ready to assist in any way," he said.
Girard said officers obtained statements from both the truck driver and bus driver, and no arrests had been made.
Kasinga said the wreck was still under investigation, and it was not immediately clear if speed, sleep-deprivation or intoxicants played a role in the crash.
"We just don't know what happened yet," she said.
The freeway remained closed throughout much of the day.
"The eastbound lanes will open at approximately 4:00 p.m. and the opening of the westbound lanes is yet to be determined," a Caltrans alert issued at 4 p.m. stated.
Motorists heading in both directions are advised to use frontage roads. The detours are:
- Eastbound traffic should use state Route 177 at Desert Center to state Route 62 and U.S. Route 95 back to with I-10.
- Westbound traffic should use exit No. 1 just west of the state line then turn right onto Poston Road, go north for about 30 miles and turn left onto Agnes Wilson Road. Go about 10 miles, then take Route 95 back to I-10.
The bus -- carrying 32 people -- was owned by El Paso-Los Angeles Limousine Express, and Kasinga said it originated in El Paso. The bus also stopped in Phoenix and had been expected to arrive in downtown Los Angeles early this morning.
The Riverside County Fire Department sent chaplains to the site for counseling, according to Benoit's office.
According to the Red Cross, a hotline was set up for people to call for information on those affected by the crash -- (760) 921-2729.
– City News Service.