5 killed when bus sliced in half by highway pole in California (VIDEO)

5 killed when bus sliced in half by highway pole in California (VIDEO) bus was nearly sliced in half after plowing into a highway pole in California's heavily agricultural San Joaquin Valley, killing five people.

Eighteen people were also injured in Tuesday's crash, but by days' end none were critical, officials said. Only about eight people escaped the bus largely unscathed.

The accident sliced the bus from front to back, with the vehicle coming to a stop when its first rear axle hit the pole.

"We couldn't pull people out because there was shattered glass everywhere, seats destroyed," passenger Leonardo Sanchez said.

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said rescuers pulled "bags of body parts" from the bus along with survivors, adding that some people suffered severed limbs. Other victims were thrown from the vehicle and landed in a ditch.

The bus, operated by Autobuses Coordinados USA, was heading to Washington state on State Route 99. It was approaching Livingston, a farming and industrial town of about 13,000, where it had been scheduled to change drivers.

A passenger headed from Mexico to her home in Pasco, Washington, said moments before the crash it appeared the driver was trying to pass another vehicle that he apparently expected to yield, but it wouldn't let him merge.

"It kind of ran him off the road," Nakia Coleman told Washington's Tri-City Herald newspaper.
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