Over 30 Injured, Two Killed in Montana Bus Crash

Rimrock Trailways bus hit a patch of ice on Interstate 90


 
 

| Monday, January 9, 2012


MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Eight people remained in serious or critical condition after the bus they were riding in crashed on an icy interstate highway in southwestern Montana, killing two people and injuring the 32 others onboard.

The victims of Sunday morning's crash were a 60-year-old woman from Illinois and a 56-year-old man from Kalispell, the Missoula County coroner's office told KECI-TV. Their names were not released.

The westbound Rimrock Trailways bus hit a patch of ice on Interstate 90 about a mile west of Clinton shortly after 7 a.m. Sunday, spun around and went into the median backward before rolling onto its left side, the Montana Highway Patrol said.

Those suffering the worst injuries appeared to have been ejected when the bus slid on its side and bounced, breaking out the windows on the driver's side. Three people were pinned under the bus. Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott Hoffman said the driver was among the seriously injured.

"In 16 years I haven't seen anything like this," Hoffman told the Missoulian. "So many people laying on the ground with injuries, writhing in pain. It was a terrible scene."

He said the estimated speed of the bus was 65 to 70 mph, and that it slid 150 feet when it entered the median, though it's unclear how long it might have been out of control before that.

"When it went on its side, because of the speed involved, it had a bouncing motion," Hoffman said. "And as it did, people were ejected through those windows."

Hoffman said his initial investigation indicated the bus was traveling too fast for conditions.

The 53-year-old bus driver was among those who survived the crash, said Don Ronan, senior director of communications for the American Bus Association, who was acting as a spokesman for Rimrock Stages. He would not release the name of the driver but told the Missoulian the driver he had previously driven the same route for Greyhound and "has a good safety record. He is a solid driver, with no issues of reliability," Ronan said.

Two of the passengers were taken to the hospital by helicopters and six or eight by ground ambulance, said Bill Tucker, the fire chief for the Clinton Rural Fire District. The rest, which Tucker described as "walking wounded," were taken to Community Medical Center

The crash was one of several reported along that stretch of highway Sunday morning, closing both eastbound and westbound lanes of an 8-mile section of the interstate between Clinton and Turah.

A westbound semitrailer lost control on the ice and flipped into the median just three miles from the bus crash, while three vehicles collided in the eastbound lanes about six miles from the bus crash. MHP Capt. Greg Watson said those involved did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

All lanes were back open by Sunday evening.

St. Patrick Hospital spokeswoman JoAnne Hoven said 12 passengers were taken to the Missoula hospital. Late Sunday, seven were in serious condition and one was in critical condition, she said. Four others were treated and released, she said.

Hoven could not immediately be reached for an update Monday morning.

Mary Windecker, spokeswoman for the Community Medical Center, also in Missoula, said 20 passengers were taken there to be treated for various injuries, none critical.

The electronic equipment on the bus indicated it was going 65 mph at the time of the crash, he said.

The speed limit in the area is 75 mph, but Montana law requires motorists to travel at a speed that is safe for the conditions.

"The law states you must drive to the conditions, and that's where our investigation is going on this," said Hoffman. "We have no other indications of another vehicle being involved. We think he was simply going too fast for the road conditions. We had one passenger state already that they felt the bus driver was going too fast right before the crash.

"We're pretty sure what happened is the conditions rapidly changed and went from wet to icy."

The bus left Billings at about 1 a.m. Sunday, had last stopped in Butte and was continuing westbound toward Missoula at the time of the crash.

The bus company, Rimrock Trailways, was founded in 1972 in Billings and has 18 buses. The company had not had a fatal accident for 27 years prior to Sunday's crash, Ronan said.



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, mass casualty incident, bus crash

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

The Evolution of Civilian High Threat Medical Guidelines

How mass killing events have proven a need for new guidelines.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Kentucky Firefighters, Medics Drill for Ebola

Lexington firefighters and medics prepare for possible patients.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Mid-South EMTs Prepare for Ebola

Mid-South EMTs are certified for service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Ebola Changes How North Carolina EMS Responds to Calls

Concern about virus spread leads to new protocols.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Oklahoma Hospitals Prepare for Ebola Cases

Training and preparation are keys for metro hospitals.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Ottawa Shooting Incident

Solider is shot by gunman at national memorial in Ottawa.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Life Link III Trauma Tactics Conference in Minnesota

Conference was designed to enhance the skills of providers of all levels, covering rescue and prehospital situations, to transport and in-hospital treatment.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

EMS Tailgating

Rigs converted for football.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


More Product Videos >