The crash occurred on Sunday, October 23, 2016, in dark conditions, about 5:16 a.m. Pacific daylight time, when a motorcoach ran into the rear of a stopped combination vehicle near mile marker 32.5 in the westbound lanes of Interstate 10 (I-10), outside Palm Springs, California.
About 5:07 a.m. (9 minutes before the crash), the California Highway Patrol (CHP) initiated a traffic break for both eastbound and westbound traffic on I-10 in support of utility work that was being performed about 1.5 miles west of the crash location. (A traffic break is a method of temporary traffic control that is used to slow or stop traffic, most typically to allow for completion of construction activities.) At that time, a 2015 International Prostar truck-tractor in combination with a 2012 Utility semitrailer, operated by Tri-State Collision LLC, was traveling westbound on I-10. The combination vehicle stopped when it reached the traffic queue that had formed as a result of the break. About 5:14 a.m., after a traffic break that lasted about 7 minutes, the CHP released westbound traffic to start moving again. Despite the release, however, the combination vehicle remained stopped in the center-right lane of the four-lane westbound roadway and, according to witnesses, was stationary as westbound traffic resumed normal flow.
About 2 minutes after the traffic break ended, a 1996 Motor Coach Industries International Inc. (MCI) 47-passenger motorcoach, operated by USA Holiday, was traveling at highway speed on westbound I-10 in the lane in which the combination vehicle was stopped. The motorcoach, which was occupied by a 59-year-old driver and 42 passengers, struck the rear of the semitrailer, intruding about 13 feet into the semitrailer and pushing the combination vehicle 71 feet forward before coming to a stop. As a result of the crash, the bus driver and 12 passengers died, and the truck driver and 30 passengers were injured.