GARFIELD COUNTY, Utah, Sept. 20, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Injured tourists whose bus crashed on State Route 12 on Friday morning have been transported to multiple hospitals, Utah Highway Patrol officials confirmed.
“The injured have been taken to area hospitals throughout Southern Utah. Several were transported by air ambulance.”
The accident happened at 11:36 a.m. about seven miles west of the national park entrance. Four people died at the scene, Utah Highway Patrol and the Grand County Sheriff’s Office have confirmed.
The crash site was 10 miles east of Panguitch and 45 miles east of Cedar City, a UHP tweet says.
Thirty people were on the bus, which carried Chinese tourists headed for Bryce Canyon. UHP confirmed all were Chinese nationals except the bus driver, who was Chinese American.
Of those who survived, 12 to 15 suffered critical injuries, and the rest suffered minor to serious injuries.
The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office posted about the accident on Facebook:
“Garfield County had a horrible tour bus accident that was transporting Chinese tourists on September 20, 2019. The bus was traveling eastbound when it ran off the road and rolled into the guardrail.
“There were 30 people on the bus which includes the driver. There is confirmed four deceased and the rest were transported with injuries to many area hospitals.
“Three helicopters were dispatched. Multiple agencies were involved. Utah Highway Patrol is investigating the accident.”
Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins also spoke to reporters at the scene.
“It appears like he drifted to the left-hand side of the road, possibly overcorrected, something happened,” Perkins said of the driver.
“The bus flipped over, overturned, the bus ended up rolling, and it rolled actually into a guard rail, which impacted the bus approximately in the middle of the bus area. Lots of injuries.”
Perkins said that initially, a language barrier hampered efforts to communicate with the Chinese patients. But a firefighter who responded spoke fluent Chinese, Perkins said, and people from Ruby’s Inn, which is nearby and has an international emphasis, also were able to assist on the scene.
Perkins said the department trains and prepares to react to tour bus accidents.
“We have so many tour buses. Bryce Canyon alone gets three million visitors a year, so this very thing’s been a big worry for us. So I guess you’re never prepared for something like this totally, but we was kind of mentally prepared. And, I’m telling you, people come together today and done a great job.”
Victims were transported to facilities including Dixie Medical Center, Kane County Hospital, Sevier Valley Hospital, and Garfield County Hospital, Perkins said. He said he did not know if some were transported to different hospitals after being assessed.
“The first responders are remarkable. I’m telling you, lives have been saved because of those people, and these people are volunteers. They’re not getting paid for this … They’re the unsung heroes.”
The U.S. Chinese Embassy tweeted late Friday afternoon regarding the accident.
“We are saddened to hear about the accident in Utah involving a bus carrying Chinese tourists. We are thankful to authorities in Utah for their assistance. The Embassy has initiated its emergency protocols, sent personnel to the area, and will assist the victims as needed.”
Gephardt Daily will have more information on this breaking news story as facts become available.