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9 Killed and Over 30 Injured After Charter Bus Veers Off Icy Highway

Tragedy struck this weekend in eastern Oregon after a tour bus lost control on an icy stretch of freeway and rolled nearly 200 feet down an embankment, according to Chicagotribune.com. Our Illinois bus accident attorneys learned that the accident occurred around 10:30am on Interstate 84. State Police reported that the lanes of the interstate were covered in ice and snow and the sky was foggy, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle and crash through a guardrail before plunging down the embankment.

The accident was said to have occurred near a spot on Interstate 84 called “Deadman’s Pass” because of the hazards on that stretch of road. It has “some of the most changeable and severe weather conditions in the Northwest,” according to an advisory published by state transportation officials.

State police reported that about 46 passengers were on the bus at the time of the accident. More than a dozen rescue workers were called to the scene immediately after and used ropes to help retrieve the injured from the scene. In total, 9 individuals were killed as a result of the accident. It is not stated if or how many passengers sustained life-threatening injuries, but a local newspaper released that 37 surviving passengers were transported to hospitals. Aircrafts were also reported to have been on standby at a nearby airport in the case that injured passengers needed to be transported elsewhere. Witnesses say the front and center of the bus sustained the most damage.

Authorities did not immediately identify the operator of the charter bus. However, it is known that the bus driver was among the survivors and had not yet spoken to police because of the severity of the injuries he suffered. It is also unknown if any charges or fines will be issued to the driver. One survivor told police that he and some other passengers though the bus driver wasn’t driving as slowly as he should have been for the conditions. “I felt like he was going too fast. I was worried about the bus,” he stated. A local official told reporters, “The stories have been fairly consistent: braking, swerving, sliding on the ice, hitting the guard rail then sliding down the embankment.”

Two investigators were expected to arrive at the crash site earlier this week. It is said they will be looking into why the bus left the road, the condition of the road at the time, the condition of the guardrail, and operations of the company that owns the bus. Hearts go out to the individuals and families who were somehow affected by the accident.

From the perspective of our law firm, accidents similar to the one above are unfortunately common during the winter months throughout the state of Illinois and throughout the country. Poor weather conditions such as snow, flurries, freezing temperatures, frost, and black ice often catch drivers off-guard, causing a number of motor-vehicle accidents as a result. A primary method to prevent accidents from occurring is remaining aware of these weather conditions and simply staying off the road until the poor weather passes. However, for many public transportation drivers such as bus drivers, staying off the road may not be possible at all times. With that being said, there are many additional steps that drivers can take to decrease the risk of an accident occurring.

First, always travel at lower speeds to maintain control of your vehicle on snow or ice. According to passenger statements from the above accident, the driver may have been traveling too fast on the roadway, possibly causing the bus to lose control in the manner that it did. Additionally, the simple rule of always wearing a seatbelt should definitely be followed. A spokesman for the above bus’s agency said seatbelts aren’t required on such buses, and that he has “been concerned about this for some time.” If passengers were wearing seatbelts on the bus, the number of injured or killed passengers may have dramatically decreased.

Finally, always remain attentive for other drivers who may have lost control of their own vehicles. Refrain from stopping for accidents or stranded vehicles along an icy roadway because it increases the likelihood of a chain-reaction collision occurring.

In all, our attorneys want all drivers to keep these safety tips in mind in order to be prepared for any unexpected snow or ice that the season brings. Understand that overconfidence in these conditions is what causes a greater number of personal injury and fatalities; always drive defensively, attentively, and responsibly.

Bus drivers are expected to ensure they can operate their vehicle properly and transport their passengers to their destinations safely. Nevertheless, bus accidents often occur as the result of driver negligence. In the case that you or a loved one is injured in an accident due to another’s negligence, please contact our law firm for more information.