ST. GEORGE — Investigations are underway to determine the cause of the tour bus crash that killed four Chinese tourists and injured more than 20 near Bryce Canyon on Friday.
The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched a 10-member team to the scene of the crash on Saturday, while the Utah Highway Patrol continues its own investigation to determine the cause of the deadly crash. The two agencies met Saturday afternoon to review their information, UHP Sgt. Nick Street said.
On Friday, a tour bus carrying 30 Chinese tourists rolled on state Route 12 near Bryce Canyon shortly before noon, killing four people and leaving more than 20 injured, several of which were in critical condition, UHP Sgt. Nick Street said at a press conference Friday.
Police say the bus appears to have drifted off the right side of the road, at which point the driver overcorrected. The bus then fishtailed across the road and rolled over a guardrail before landing upright.
The middle of the bus folded during the rollover as it continued over the guardrail, causing significant damage to the top of the bus which was crushed in the process.
At least 24 of the bus passengers were transported to one of four area hospitals, according to an update released by Intermountain Healthcare.
As of Saturday, five people remain in critical condition while seven are in serious condition.
Most of the patients were admitted to Dixie Regional Medical Center, while two in serious condition remained at the Utah Valley Hospital.
Garfield Memorial Hospital, a 41-bed facility in Panguitch with two trauma rooms, received 19 of the patients. Of those, seven were discharged, 11 were transferred to nearby facilities and one was admitted.
While most of the patients were transferred, medical staff at Garfield Memorial were charged with stabilizing patients and rendering life-saving measures before they could be transported to another facility.
The Chinese embassy in the U.S. thanked Utah authorities, tweeting that “the embassy has initiated its emergency protocols, sent personnel to the area and will assist the victims as need.”
After the crash, the Chinese Embassy rushed a group to the various hospitals to visit those who were injured and contact family members of the deceased. They are currently working with police, hospitals and other departments to assist in the “treatment, resettlement and appeasement,” of the passengers.
“We are grateful to the U.S. government, the various departments in Utah, and the overseas Chinese in the three sides of the strait for their help in the handling of the accident — we will continue to do our best in the aftermath,” they wrote in the tweet.
A number of foreign language students from Dixie State University also responded to the scene near Bryce Canyon to provide translation services since a majority of the passengers spoke little to no English.
While UHP troopers were tending to the bus crash, authorities in Northern Utah were dealing with adverse weather and traffic conditions that triggered a series of crashes reported along Interstate 15 Friday, including a number of serious crashes in Box Elder County and one that resulted in a fatality.
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