EMERY COUNTY, Utah, Dec. 28, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Emery County Sheriff’s Office has released new details after the rollover of a Greyhound bus late Monday that sent 32 victims two three area hospitals.
The incident was called into dispatch at 11:48 p.m. Monday.
“Emery County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center started receiving calls from passengers on a Greyhound bus stating that the bus had crashed on Interstate 70 and that a lot of people were injured,” says a statement released Tuesday Tuesday afternoon by the ECSO. “One caller stated that the bus had left the roadway and was upside down in a ditch.”
Multiple Emery County ambulances and fire departments responded to the scene, as did ambulances from Wayne County, Sevier County, Sanpete County and Carbon County, the statement says. Additional Emery County EMTs responded in personal vehicles.
Emery County Sheriff’s Office personnel, AP&P agents and members of the Emery County Search and Rescue Team responded, joining deputies from Wayne County and Utah Highway Patrol personnel.
“Helicopters were paged but were unable to respond due to weather conditions,” the statement says. “The Carbon County Road Department was dispatched for snow removal at the Carbon County Airport in Price to clear the runway and allow for the University of Utah Air Med fixed-wing plane to land and be on standby for patient transport.
Lowell Morris and Gabe Sermon, who are two medical professionals from Emery Medical Center in Castle Dale, responded to the scene. Green River Medical Center was on standby to receive injured passengers.”
Although Utah Department of Public Safety statement issued Tuesday morning estimated those transported at about 20, the Emery County Sheriff statement says initial reports suggested about 50 passengers were on the bus. On scene, officials determined there were 36 passengers and a driver on the Greyhound. Emery School District responded to the scene with a school bus in case it was needed for transport.
The accident happened at mile marker 112 on a remote stretch of I-70. The site is 48 miles from Green River (which has no hospital), 36 miles from the small town of Emery (no medical services), 71 miles from Richfield (nearest hospital) and 92 miles from Price (which has a hospital).
Emery County Sheriff’s Office designated a temporary shelter location at a church in the town of Emery for 10 passengers who were not taken from the accident scene by ambulance.
“Emery residents responded with blankets and food for these passengers, and also cooked breakfast for them,” the sheriff’s statement says. “After Morris and Sermon were finished at the scene of the accident, they responded to the church in Emery. After further evaluation and triage of the 10 passengers that were sheltering at the church, six of them were transported to hospitals by ambulance.”
In total, 32 people were transported by 12 ambulances to three hospitals, the ECSO statement says. An earlier statement by Utah DPS said although some injuries were serious, all the victims were expected to survive.
Emery County Sheriff Greg Funk praised the multi-county response.
“I cannot say enough about the cooperation between counties,” he said in a prepared statement. “To get that many ambulances from five counties to such a remote location, as well as support from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and AP&P to help with the injured passengers — it was an incredible effort on a frigid winter night.
“Emery County EMS was able to send numerous EMTs to the scene in addition to those working on the ambulances. A phone call was made to the bishop of the Emery Ward. He opened the church building and arranged for food and bedding for those not initially transported by ambulance.”
At least 10 residents of Emery responded to the church to cook for and serve the stranded passengers.
“I am very grateful for the way they responded to show kindness to the stranded passengers. I want to thank our Search and Rescue volunteers who responded to help triage at the scene of the accident and who helped pack injured passengers to the ambulances. Two members of our Search and Rescue Team who responded, Seth Gardner and James Byars, are also EMTs. They quickly took control of tracking patients and triage at the scene and did a phenomenal job.”
Search and Rescue volunteers also used their personal vehicles to transport some passengers to the church site in Emery.
“I am proud of the Emery County Deputies who also triaged and cared for passengers at the scene, and who gathered up food and bedding from the Emery County Detention Center and transported it to the church,” Funk said.
Emery County Commissioner Kent Wilson also shared his pride in the response.
“I am extremely proud of our EMS staff and the way they responded,” Wilson said. “They performed above and beyond. Emery County has five separate ambulance garages and our EMTs are paid volunteers. Every garage responded at midnight during the holiday season. I am also grateful for our neighboring counties who helped in time of crisis.”
The accident is being investigated by Utah Highway Patrol.