Sacramento, CA Greyhound Bus Crashes Into Pillar, Nov 1973
"GAMBLERS SPECIAL" BUS HITS PILLAR ON FREEWAY; 13 KILLED.
Sacramento, Calif. (UPI) -- A weekend "gamblers' special" Greyhound tour bus speeding to Reno with 43 passengers hoping for luck at the casinos crashed into a freeway pillar Saturday night, killing 13 persons.
Everyone else on the bus was injured, eight critically. The unexplained accident occurred on Interstate 880, the highspeed freeway between the San Francisco Bay Area and the gambling meccas around Lake Tahoe and Reno.
"The guy (bus driver) practically ran us off the road," said Bernard Norton, 25, Sacramento, whose car was passed by the bus minutes before the crash. "He had to be doing 90 or 100, because my wife was going 70."
California Highway Patrol officers said the Greyhound special hit a steel guard rail and "plowed dead center" into a pillar supporting an overpass.
The impact split the bus open about one-third of its length and sprayed passengers, seats and parts of the bus over an area the size of a football field.
The trip was sponsored by a Negro group called "Variety Swingers" from Richmond California, across the bay from San Francisco. All the victims -- seven men and six women -- were black.
The bus driver was identified Sunday as DOUGLAS MOORE, 26, also of the San Francisco Bay area. He was killed instantly.
While crews cleaned up the grisly scene on the freeway about three miles north of the California state Capitol, coroners began autopsies on the driver in an attempt to pinpoint the caue of the crash.
"I was sitting there talking to my girlfriend and she was just starting to go to sleep on my shoulder and the next thing I hears was bam," said JESSE BOOKER, one of the passengers.
"I don't remember too much after the crash," he said, "except that people were lying everywhere."
His girlfriend, DORETHA THOMAS, 28, said after falling asleep "the next thing I knew I was on the pavement and heard JESSE say, 'put your feet here and you'll feel better.'" BOOKER and MISS THOMAS suffered only minor injuries.
Mrs. Albert Deverell, another Sacramento motorist who was passed by the bus, also said it appeared to be exceeding 70 mph.
"It was going awfully fast," she said, quoting her daughter, Patty, as telling her at the time: "God, that bus was going fast. He must be going 80 or 90 miles an hour."
Scores of buses head up to the gambling country every weekend, offering a respite from the city and a chance at the fortunes of the dice tables and slot machines.
Lt. Robert Parks of the Highway Patrol, said it was the worst wreck he had ever seen in 21 years of service. The big, double-decker bus was "totally demolished," he said.
Parks said investigators were at a loss to determine what caused the accident. No other vehicles were involved.
The patrol investigator declined to estimate the speed at which the Greyhound was traveling, but said, "She must have been moving right along to do that kind of damage."
The driver was among those killed instantly when they were hurled from the bus as it split into a Y-shape around the concrete pillar.
More than 20 ambulances rushed to the scene about 9 p.m. Saturday night, taking injured to five hospitals in Sacramento. It took rescue workers several hours, working with torches, to cut some of the injured from the wreckage of the bus.
Oakland Tribune California 1973-11-05
Victims of Sacramento Bus Crash.
Sacramento -- Here is a list of the victims of Saturday night's bus crash north of here, supplied by the Sacramento County coroner's office:
Bus driver DOUGLAS MOORE, 26, of 2837 D Street, Hayward, Calif.
ROSA L. DeVAUGHN, 50, of 1053 8th Street, Richmond, Calif.
JOHN T. GLOVER, 41, of 919 South 45th Street, Richmond, Calif.
ESTHER M. HARRIS, 27, of 4261 McGlothen Way, Richmond, Calif.
ANNIE PEARL HENDERSON, 36, of 738 Harrison Drive, San Pablo, Calif.
RACHEL JENKINS, 55, of Richmond, Calif.
THOMAS C. LEWIS, 48, of 712 South 19th Street, Richmond, Calif.
GLADYS J. RANDLE, of 186 West Chansler Avenue, Richmond, Calif.
BARBARA JO STEVENSON, 33, of 289 Mullens Drive, Richmond, Calif.
CHARLES G. STERN, 45, of 894 Banks Drive, Richmond, Calif.
MINOR TILLMAN, 75, of 635 South 20th Street, Richmond, Calif.
JOSEPH WALKER, 53, of 318 South 5th Street, Richmond, Calif.
WALLACE G. DANIELS, age and address unknown.