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Interbus offers Mexicans near-daily bus tours to the western U.S. from Tijuana. Its office in a Tijuana strip mall displays photographs of some of its destinations, including Hollywood, the Las Vegas Strip and the San Diego Zoo.

There were 38 people aboard the bus that crashed, including the driver and a tour guide, Mr. Garcia said. The bus left Tijuana at 5 a.m. Sunday, with the itinerary calling for a return late that night.

“Everything points to faulty brakes,” Mr. Garcia said.

He said he had spoken briefly with his tour guide, who suffered bruises. She told him she heard a loud pop before the crash.

Mr. Garcia said he believed all passengers were Mexican citizens and that there were no U.S. citizens aboard. He was referring victims’ families to the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles, the California Highway Patrol and the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

Big Bear Lake sits at an elevation of 6,750 feet, and the area has ski resorts and other snow play areas.

After the crash, it took nearly two hours to clear all the people who could be transported to hospitals and to go through the wreckage, said Kathleen Opliger, incident commander and San Bernardino County fire battalion chief.

Patients were taken to several hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening.

• Associated Press writers contributing to this report included Gillian Flaccus in Loma Linda; Michael R. Blood, Andrew Dalton and Bob Jablon in Los Angeles; and Amanda Kwan and Bob Seavey in Phoenix.