Slid Off Icy Highway Down Hill
A CANADIAN CHARTER BUS returning to Vancouver, B. C., from Las Vegas slid or spun on icy, snowy I-85 Sunday morning. The bus plunged 100- to 150-ft. down a steep hillside and appears to have rolled at least once going down the hill.
The accident occurred in a rural area just before 10:30 am Pacific. There were approx. 40 passengers on the bus, but an exact count hasn't been achieved yet.
The bus landed down a steep hill that is covered with snow and the LaGrande Rural Fire Department had to call out rope rescue team to get all the passengers, both alive and dead, back up to the roadway. The tedious task was finally accomplished at 5:13 pm. Fire and EMS units from two counties were on the scene.
The Associated Press reported:
By 4:24 p.m. Sunday the number of confirmed fatalities had risen from five to nine.
"We are continuing to try and confirm the total number of passengers and number of injured persons transported to area hospital or secondary locations due to severity of injuries," reports Oregon State Police in a news release. "St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton confirmed 18 patients were brought to their hospital with a range of injuries. Some of those patients were transported by air to secondary hospital locations due to the severity of their injuries."
State police is reporting that the bus driver survived the crash. However, "investigators have not be able to speak to this person because of severity of injuries and medical care," OSP reports.
(By 1:30 p.m. Sunday, all of the "viable" patients involved in the accident had been removed from the scene. Shortly after 5 pm all of the fatalities were removed.) However, police still aren't sure exactly how many people were on the bus when it crashed. Oregon State Police investigators remained at the scene; Interstate-84 also remained closed 18 miles east of Pendleton, at milepost 227, and at the intersection with the Whitney Highway.
At 6:05 p.m., St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton, Ore., reports that it has received 26 patients from this crash. Five of those patients were taken to a secondary hospital for treatment. The other 21 patients are still being treated there.
KOIN-TV has a good video report:
KATU-TV has some aerial footage taken from their helicopter:
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