The driver of a tour bus that crashed near a national park in Utah was making his first trip for a company that had only been in business for a short time, investigators said on September 23. The crash resulted in the tragic loss of four Chinese tourists and injured dozens more. The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting research work on driver’s background, license qualification, and medical history, said Pete Kotowski, an investigator-in-charge for the agency, at a news conference Sunday night. He didn’t disclose the driver’s name but said he’s from California. The agency has not yet interrogated him. According to the Utah Highway Patrol, the driver is a U.S. citizen and he didn’t appear to be intoxicated. The NTSB is also researching the bus company’s inspection history, hiring practices and corporate safety culture, Kotowski said. The company, named America Shengjia Inc., based in Ontario, California, is cooperating with investigators, he said.
Synopsis:— Utah Highway Patrol (@UTHighwayPatrol) September 20, 2019
At 11:32 AM we received calls of a bus crash near mile post 10 on SR-12 (10 miles east of Panguitch and 45 miles east of Cedar City).
The phone messages sent to the company on Saturday and Sunday by several news agencies have not been answered yet. The cause of the accident near Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah is yet to be determined, Kotowski said. They’re examining the crash spot as well as the minibus. Utah Highway Patrol officials said the bus driver tried to change direction abruptly which resulted in rolling over into a guardrail near a highway rest stop a few miles away from the national park. The crash left the top of a white bus completely damaged and one side peeling away as the vehicle came to a halt mostly off the side of the road against a sign for restrooms. Four people died on the spot and five others were in critical condition as of Saturday night. Hospital officials didn’t provide any condition updates on Sunday.
Kotowski said that the bus had seat belts but it was not known if any of the passengers were wearing the seatbelts. Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street said previously not everyone was wearing a seatbelt, as is common in tour buses. Three women and one man died in the crash. The victims have been identified as Ling Geng, 68, Xiuyun Chen, 67, Zhang Caiyu, 62, and Zhongliang Qiu, 65, according to the Utah Highway Patrol. The deceased was part of a group made up of 29 tourists and one leader. They come from Shanghai and the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Heilongjiang, according to a news report on the media website huanqiu.com. The tour leader came from Hebei Province, near Beijing, according to the Zhejiang Online news site. The tour company was sending employees from China to help those injured.