4:16 pm - 12/31/2012

9 killed, more than 2 dozen hurt when charter tour bus veers off icy highway in eastern Oregon

PENDLETON, Ore. - A tour bus careened through a guardrail along an icy Oregon highway and 100 feet down a steep embankment Sunday, killing nine people and injuring more than 20 others, authorities said.

The charter bus carrying about 40 people lost control around 10:30 a.m. on snow- and ice-covered lanes of Interstate 84 in a rural area of eastern Oregon, according to the Oregon State Police. The bus crashed near the start of a 7-mile section of road that winds down a hill.
The bus came to rest at the bottom of a snowy slope and landed upright, with little or no debris visible around the crash site.

More than a dozen rescue workers descended the hill and used ropes to help retrieve people from the wreckage in freezing weather. The bus driver was among the survivors, but had not yet spoken to police because of the severity of the injuries the driver had suffered.
Lt. Greg Hastings said the bus crashed along the west end of the Blue Mountains, and west of an area called Deadman Pass. The area is so dangerous the state transportation department published specific warnings for truck drivers, advising it had "some of the most changeable and severe weather conditions in the Northwest" and can lead to slick conditions and poor visibility.
St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton treated 26 people from the accident, said hospital spokesman Larry Blanc. Five of those treated at St. Anthony were transported to other facilities.

The East Oregonian said it spoke with two South Korean passengers, ages 16 and 17. Both said through a translator that they were seated near the rear of the bus when it swerved a few times, hit the guardrail and flipped. They described breaking glass and seeing passengers pinned by their seats as the bus slid down the hill. Both said that they feared for their lives.
The paper said that the teens, one of whom injured a knee and the other suffered a broken collarbone, were staying at a hotel arranged by the Red Cross.

I-84 is a major east-west highway through Oregon that follows the Columbia River Gorge.
Umatilla County Emergency Manager Jack Remillard said the bus was owned by Mi Joo travel in Vancouver, B.C., and state police said the bus was en route from Las Vegas to Vancouver.

A woman who answered the phone at a listing for the company confirmed with The Associated Press that it owned the bus and said it was on a tour of the Western U.S. She declined to give her name.

A bus safety website run by the U.S. Department of Transportation said Mi Joo Tour & Travel has six buses, none of which have been involved in any accidents in at least the past two years.

The bus crash was the second fatal accident on the same highway in Oregon on Sunday. A 69-year-old man died in a rollover accident about 30 miles west of the area where the bus crashed.

A spokesman for the American Bus Association said buses carry more than 700 million passengers a year in the United States.
"The industry as a whole is a very safe industry," said Dan Ronan of the Washington, D.C.,-based group."There are only a handful of accidents every year. Comparatively speaking, we're the safest form of surface transportation."

The bus crash comes more than two months after another chartered tour bus in October veered off a highway in northern Arizona, killing the driver and injuring dozens of passengers who were mostly tourists from Asia and Europe. Authorities say the driver likely had a medical episode.

Related Articles:
Officials searching for more translators to aid survivors of fatal Oregon bus crash
B.C. teens feared for their lives during Oregon bus crash that killed 9
‘Deadman Pass’ where bus crashed called ‘treacherous’

Source: GlobalBC1,2
Families in BC and Korea are trying to get more information on their loved ones (video report)

UPDATE: It's been revealed that along with the Korean passengers there were also passengers from Japan, Taiwan and Canada. Some were students and some were families. Ages ranging from 7-74 years old. Names of the survivors have been released, but the names and nationalities of the deceased will remained unreleased until family has been contacted.(video report)
shanny_w 1st-Jan-2013 12:24 am (UTC)
Names and nationalities of the victims aren't being officially released but I heard that all but 1 or 2 of the people on the bus were korean foreign exchange students who were living with host fams in vancouver. What a tragic accident :(

nvm more info has been released.

Edited at 2013-01-01 07:02 am (UTC)
crowleyd545 1st-Jan-2013 12:54 am (UTC)
my mom told me about this today. the news breaks my heart incredibly. i traveled on a korean tour bus company with my mom to Vancouver a couple of winters ago so it's so terrible what happened. :(
honeebs 1st-Jan-2013 12:54 am (UTC)
Wow, exchange students. All parents worst nightmare.
Sorry to end and start the year out like that.
RIP/get well soon.
senshicalico 1st-Jan-2013 01:34 am (UTC)
At first I was really confused why my state was in omona.

Now I'm just =(
inati 1st-Jan-2013 01:43 am (UTC)
same :c
b1gay4 1st-Jan-2013 05:14 am (UTC)
i know how you feel....
as i was reading the title something in me happened whe i read oregon.......
you could say it's one of those "in-your-own-home" things but )-:
inati 1st-Jan-2013 01:49 am (UTC)
i live in oregon & it's even scary to go on those roads during the summer. confuses me why a bus would take that route in these conditions..

RIP & i wish the survivors a speedy & safe recovery. :(
shanny_w 1st-Jan-2013 01:51 am (UTC)
Maybe the bus driver was unfamiliar or less experienced. I guess we'll find out more when they are able to give an interview.
b1gay4 1st-Jan-2013 05:13 am (UTC)
i used to live in oregon too. when ever winter came everyone used tire tracks and rarley went outside ti avoid accidents....
lainmyownworld 1st-Jan-2013 03:20 am (UTC)
probably due to ice, but bus drivers are crazy and i hate using them.

Edited at 2013-01-01 03:21 am (UTC)
ladyjoon80 1st-Jan-2013 03:21 am (UTC)
RIP and speedy recovery for those who are badly injured.
b1gay4 1st-Jan-2013 05:12 am (UTC)
no.....no..........this is terrible
my heart goes out to every single person affected by this tragedy.........
alot of my family moved to and lives in oregon........pendleton..........
everyone....please be safe when driving......purchase tire tracks........never drunk or drive as well.........
please do not speed up in the winter.........stay safe.
mjspice 1st-Jan-2013 04:16 pm (UTC)
Damn! That is just so sad.
abcdoraemi 3rd-Jan-2013 01:27 am (UTC)
I live in Oregon and it was incredibly odd for me to find out about this via Omona...
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