25 Years Ago: Deadly Bus Crash in Palm Springs

25 Years Ago: Deadly Bus Crash in Palm Springs


It was 25 years ago, July 31st, 1991, that a school bus filled with girl scouts from across the country veered off Tramway road and crashed into the desert.

Sonny Bono was the mayor of Palm Springs at the time.
He was one of the first people on the scene.

Agencies from across Riverside County rushed to help, and victims were taken to all three valley hospitals.

The crash left seven dead, and 47 injured.

Here’s a look at the story 25 years ago as told by KMIR news reporter Jay Gormley:

It was one of the worst accidents in the history of Palm Springs. Several girl scouts were killed when the school bus they were traveling in overturned.
"I can recall other accidents involving buses, but nothing of this magnitude, this is the worst I’ve ever seen."
"It is also hard to see the other kids who have friends that have been killed. Everyone is pretty much traumatized right now."
The bus was filled with girls from the Spanish Trail Troop based in Pomona. The group consisted of scouts from around the world. The vehicle overturned on Tramway road, around 3:30 in the afternoon. The bus was heading down from the tram at a high rate of speed when it went airborne. It then rolled several times until it fell into a 40-foot ditch. Nearly 50 of the girl scouts were injured. More than two dozen critical to serious.
"Men here have done a tremendous job, simply because of the terrain and having to bring people up the sides in limited space. They are getting people out and turned around. We were able to call mutual aid sources from Cathedral City and Palm Springs."
Three helicopters were flown in. Psychologists were also brought in to comfort the injured. Even Palm Springs Mayor Sonny Bono was on-hand.
Palm Springs Mayor, Sonny Bono said, "That’s all I wanted to hear, that they will be OK. Some are concerned if they’re OK and asking for their friends. I would just say yeah, they’re OK."
The injured girl scouts were taken to Desert, Eisenhower, and John F Kennedy Hospitals. Investigators say it may have been faulty breaks which may have caused the crash.
"According to people, as the bus was passing, it was beeping its horn, which leads us to believe something was wrong. And people on the bus that went off the side of the road say they believe the brakes were not working right."

On Monday, Desert Regional Medical Center will hold a 25th anniversary dedication event. Remembering those who lost their lives, and honoring the doctors, nurses, staff and volunteers who provided care on July 31st, 1991.
It will be in the Sinatra Education Center from 2 to 3pm.