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13 injured as tour bus collides with tomato truck

2:30 p.m. -- The CHP has reported that 13 of the 30 passengers on the bus were injured -- half of the number of injuries that were initially reported.

Passengers on the bus told CHP officers that the bus driver may have been falling asleep at the wheel. The accident happened around 9:25 a.m., after the bus struck the right rear side of a tomato truck, according to the CHP.

The accident spilled several tons of tomatoes into the median and one lane of Highway 152, blocking traffic in one lane for several hours. One person was transported to the hospital with minor to moderate injures, while 12 were transported by ambulance to local hospitals with minor injuries, according to CHP Officer Mike Panelli.

Panelli said passengers on the bus said the driver appeared to be falling asleep and allowed the bus to drift into the dirt median of the highway. As the driver swerved back into the eastbound lanes of the highway, he failed to observe the tomato truck slowing down ahead of him, Panelli said.

Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the accident, Panelli said.

1 p.m.: The injuries reported in the bus accident appear to be minor, with no fatalities, according to CHP Officer Joseph Miller.

Miller also reported that both lanes of the highway are now clear.

10:30 a.m.: Twenty-six people are being reported injured in an accident between a tour bus and a semi-truck, according to CHP radio traffic.

The bus, on its way to Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino near Coarsegold in Madera County, collided with a truck carrying tomatoes at approximately 9:30 a.m. Sunday on Highway 152 near Volta Road in Los Banos.

At least one passenger is being flown by helicopter to an area hospital.

Keep checking MercedSunStar.com for updates.

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