Santa Cruz Party Bus Operator Cited Numerous Times Before Fatal Accident

SANTA CRUZ (KCBS) – The operator of a party bus that was involved in a fatal accident last week on Highway 17 near Los Gatos had been cited and fined for a number of past violations.

25-year-old Natasha Noland, who was allegedly fighting with another inebriated woman, died when both somehow fell out of the back of the bus last Friday.

The company, Party Bus of Santa Cruz, was cited by the California Highway Patrol for a number of paperwork violations, including not enrolling their drivers in the Department of Motor Vehicles Employer Pull Notice program.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

“All motor carriers who have commercially-licensed drivers operating their equipment are required to enroll these drivers in the program,” said CHP inspector Bob Black. “The DMV sends them out a printout of the driver’s history once a year or anytime any other action is taken against their license. This helps the motor carrier in that they know that the people operating their equipment have a valid driver’s license.”

Black said it’s not unusual for new carriers to be unaware of the requirement.

The California Public Utilities Commission also fined the company $4,500 in 2010 for several violations, including operating with a suspended license and failing to drug test employees.

The second woman involved in the fight has now been released from the hospital.

The CHP is still trying to interview the 12-15 passengers who were on the bus at the time of the accident.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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