Greyhound Bus Rolls Over on I-70, 21 Injured

Mar 9, 2004 4:21 pm US/Mountain

A Greyhound bus traveling from Las Vegas to Denver rolled onto its side on a desert stretch of Interstate 70 Tuesday in southeastern Utah, injuring 28 passengers and the driver, authorities said.

The bus driver told the Utah Highway Patrol that he either blacked out or fell asleep.

The bus was carrying 32 passengers. The patrol originally reported that 21 people left the accident scene in ambulances or helicopters. Of that number, five were airlifted to a Grand Junction, Colo., hospital, said patrol trooper Guy Webster.

A spokeswoman for St. Mary's Hospital and Medical Center, Kathy Cherin, said five people were airlifted to the hospital and another seven were brought by ground. Only one passenger was classified as serious and was being admitted to the hospital, Cherin said. The others were in fair condition, she said.

Thirteen adults were taken to Castle View Hospital in Price, said chief nursing officer Terri Watkins. All had minor injuries, including bruises, scrapes, lacerations and a few fractured clavicles, she said. Only one patient was admitted to the hospital for observation, Watkins said.

Three passengers and the bus driver were taken to a clinic in Green River, the patrol said. The clinic would not release information about the injured.

Webster said some of the injured might have sought medical help on their own once they were driven from the accident scene to Green River.

The accident occurred just before 8:30 a.m. about 30 miles west of Green River, said Lt. Steve Esplin of the Utah Highway Patrol.

Driver fatigue was a factor in the accident, in which the bus drifted to the right shoulder, corrected and then rolled over to its right side, Esplin said.

``According to his statements, he said he either blacked out or fell asleep,'' Esplin told 2News. ``That's a common occurrence across that stretch. It's a long stretch of highway with nothing in between except Green River and Salina.''

The bus left Las Vegas about 1 a.m. and was scheduled to arrive in Denver at 5:30 p.m., said Lynn Brown, a spokeswoman for Greyhound Lines, Inc.

Brown said an investigation into the accident was ongoing and an exact cause wasn't yet known. She said Greyhound was sending relief buses to send uninjured passengers to Denver.

Green River is about 150 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.

A hot line has been established for relatives to check on the status of passengers: 1-800-972-4583.