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Chrissie Cole
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Bus Driver Identified In Fatal Bus Crash; Investigation Ongoing

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Officials have not determined the cause of a deadly crash of a tour bus Tuesday in Monterey County. The bus, carrying 34 French tourists and their guide, overturned on a Highway 101 overpass in Soledad.

Five people, including the bus driver, were killed and several passengers were injured.

The driver has been identified as John Egnew, 69, of Riverside County, according to the Monterey County coroner. He died of head and neck injuries after he was thrown from the bus.

The names of the four tourists killed have not been released pending family notification.

Twenty-four people were reported hospitalized, of which two appear to have serious injuries. As of Thursday, 20 were still in the hospital.

The crash came a week after the National Transportation Safety Board called on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to take steps to ensure that bus passengers are protected from collisions by installing seat belts, strengthening bus roofs and installing recorders to monitor driver fatigue. A spokesman for the agency declined comment.

Safety advocates say, over the past decade federal safety regulators have failed to execute many recommendations.

California Highway Patrol accident investigators have not determined the cause of the crash and are still investigating, including road conditions, the drivers history and the speed and condition of the bus that crashed.

In January 2007, Orion Pacific, the company that owns the bus, was given a “satisfactory” rating and underwent 14 vehicle inspections and six driver inspections with no crashes or violations in the past two years, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Commission.

The tour bus left San Francisco Tuesday on a sightseeing trip that began April 19 in Los Angeles.

Update – The AP reports, in 2005, the driver of the tour bus struck and seriously injured a woman in a Nevada crosswalk.

Egnew admitted not seeing the woman before he struck her with a bus as she and her husband crossed the street, according to a Las Vegas police report provided to the AP.

Egnew pleaded no contest in April 2006 to one misdemeanor count of starting improperly from a stopped position. #