On Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, disaster struck a tour bus as it made its way to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. The bus, which had at least 31 people on board, rolled over and crashed into a guard rail. At least four people died and many more suffered critical injuries in the crash.
Investigators are looking into what caused the Bryce Canyon bus crash, though they have said the driver did not appear to be intoxicated. The driver, a US citizen who lives in California, was on his first trip for America Shengjia Inc., the company which operated the bus, on a trip planned by U-Tour Group of Shanghai.
Early Reports Indicate Driver Error Caused America Shengjia Bryce Canyon Bus Crash
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are looking into the factors leading up to the crash. According to early reports, officials believe that at around 11:15 a.m. on Sept. 20, 2019, the bus drifted off the right side of State Route 12, near Red Canyon. Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street told reporters that it appears the driver overcorrected, which caused the bus to fishtail. The vehicle then rolled into a guardrail before landing back on its wheels.
Officials Identify U-Tour Group Bus Accident Victims
Reports indicate the bus had 29 tourists and a group leader on board. Four of those passengers—three women and a man, all from Shanghai—died when the bus rolled over. They have been identified as:
Ling Geng (68)
Xiuyun Chen (67)
Zhang Caiyu (62)
Zhonglian Qui (65)
At least 12 other people were hospitalized with injuries that ranged from serious to critical. The bus driver also suffered injuries but has been released from the hospital.
The victims did not speak English, so translators were called to help doctors and nurses communicate with injured passengers. Translators also helped investigators interview witnesses.
“They (the bus crash victims) told me they never expected this kind of accident and they just don’t know what to do or how to react,” said Jason Chang, who assisted with translation. “Some of them (were) really in pain.”
Were Seatbelts a Factor in the America Shengjia Bus Crash?
The midsize bus involved in the crash was built in 2017. It had seatbelts, but Pete Kotowski, an NTSB investigator, said not all passengers were wearing them.
“It’s undisputed that having seat belts saves lives,” said Timothy Loranger, an attorney with Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman who has extensive experience representing victims of transportation accidents.
For almost 50 years, the NTSB has recommended that large buses be outfitted with seatbelts. A rule adopted in 2013 requires all new buses built after the end of 2016 have lap-and-shoulder restraints, but the rule did not extend to existing buses.
“That should be a requirement for all these vehicles,” Loranger told USA Today.
All too often, bus owners and operators put profits ahead of safety by choosing not to install adequate seatbelts on their buses. Not installing proper safety restraints puts passengers at risk of severe injuries, including death, in the case of a bus crash.
“Money is a driving force behind the way a lot of these decisions are made,” Loranger said.
Despite the NTSB’s recommendations regarding seatbelts on buses, the agency can only investigate crashes and make recommendations. It cannot enact or enforce laws regarding the recommendations it makes.
“The buses are supposed to conform to whatever federal regulations exist,” Loranger added.
Investigators are examining the factors that might have caused the bus to veer from its path, including driver error, weather, and mechanical malfunctions. The NTSB has said a full report could take 12 to 24 months.
Bus Crash Attorneys
Attorneys at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman have represented hundreds of bus crash victims who were harmed in more than 90 bus crashes. Our attorneys fight aggressively for people harmed in accidents and are fierce advocates for strengthened transportation safety. We have seen the harm caused when tour operators, bus owners, and drivers show disregard for passenger safety, and we are dedicated to obtaining justice for people affected by bus accidents.
Our attorneys have represented victims of many high-profile bus crashes, including:
If you or a family member was harmed in the Bryce Canyon bus crash, you need representation by competent and experienced bus crash attorneys. Contact Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman today to find out how we can fight for your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve.