Tour bus in crash that killed 13 did not comply with safety standards

The treads on half the tires of a tour bus that slammed into a tractor-trailer on a desert freeway, killing 13 people, were worn down to an unsafe level, a federal investigator said Tuesday as authorities worked to determine the cause of one of California’s deadliest highway crashes.

The condition of the four faulty tires meant the 1996 bus was out of compliance with federal standards and could have been taken out of service, Earl Weener, a board member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said at a news conference in Palm Desert, near the site of Sunday’s crash that also injured 31 people on Interstate 10.

Despite the discovery, the cause of the crash remained undetermined and the NTSB was expected to take about a year to complete its investigation.

The California Highway Patrol has said there was no indication that the driver, Teodulo Elias Vides, applied his brakes before hitting the truck that was going about 5 mph because of utility work being done in the area. The bus was traveling at freeway speed, officials said.

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