A tour bus crash in southern Utah killed four Chinese tourists and severely injured several more, authorities investigating the accident said.
The bus crash occurred Friday morning on State Route 12 near Bryce Canyon National Park. The bus had been headed into the park as part of a tour but began to veer off the road for an unknown reason, according to the Utah Highway Patrol. The driver likely overcorrected and the bus tipped over, rolling over once, hitting a guardrail and landing halfway off the road. Pictures and video of the bus crash show the side of the bus ripped off and the roof heavily crushed.
All of the 31 people aboard the bus, including the driver and a tour leader, were injured. The four people who were killed – three women and one man – were all residents of Shanghai. The 25 other passengers were either from Shanghai or the Shanghai area.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent investigators to the crash site to open an investigation. The agency is looking into the driver’s background, license qualification and medical history, according to NTSB official Pete Kotowski.
Investigators said the driver of the bus, an American citizen, was making his first drive for America Shengjia Inc., the company that owned the tour bus and employed the driver. The driver survived the accident and is talking with investigators.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety (FMCSA) records indicate the bus company was formed in 2017 and had logged about 40,000 miles as of 2018. The records also show the company owns two buses and employs two drivers.
In its short time in business, the Ontario, California-based bus company racked up eight safety violations: one for unsafe driving; five for hours of service compliance; and two for vehicle maintenance.
According to the Associated Press, officials said intoxication didn’t appear to be an issue, nor did weather conditions. Investigators are still looking into potential mechanical issues with the bus.
The U.S. tour was arranged by the Chinese travel agency Shanghai Zhuyuan International Travel Agency. The tourists were on the seventh day of a 16-day trip that stopped at other national parks in the West and Las Vegas before continuing on to the East Coast.
The Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism urged the travel agency to organize help and relief for the injured passengers. According to the AP, the travel agency’s general manager told a Chinese TV program that its U.S. partners sent 10 staff members to hospitals to help the victims communicate with doctors and police.
Chris Glover, Managing Attorney of our Atlanta office, handles cases involving commercial vehicles including 18-wheelers, buses and heavy trucks. He is familiar with the special investment of time and resources, and a detailed knowledge of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations that comes with handling a case involving an 18-wheeler, log truck or other commercial vehicle.