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Utah bus crash near Bryce Canyon: What we know now

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At least four people died in the crash on State Route 12, the main highway to the national park located in southern Utah.
USA TODAY

A tour bus crash near Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah left at least four dead and numerous people injured Friday, authorities said.

A bus driver and 30 Chinese-speaking tourists were headed to Bryce Canyon National Park late Friday morning when the bus rolled off the road on State Route 12 and crashed into a guardrail, according to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

Here is what we know now:

4 people were killed, many were injured

At least four passengers were killed and five others were critically injured, according to the Utah Highway Patrol.

Garfield Memorial Hospital in the nearby town of Panguitch received 17 patients, according to Intermountain Healthcare on Twitter:

  • Three were in critical condition.
  • 11 were in serious condition.
  • Three were in fair condition

The driver was injured but is able to cooperate with the investigation, UHP Sgt. Nicholas Street said.

Chinese translators were needed

Shortly after the crash, UHP tweeted, “We are confirming the tourists are Chinese speaking tourists” and a reverse-911 message was sent to residents in Garfield County and other surrounding areas in Utah asking if Chinese-speaking translators would be available to help at the scene.

Officials with Southern Utah University, a college in Cedar City about 90 minutes from the crash scene, asked international students from China to help as translators.

In a tweet, the Chinese embassy in the U.S. thanked Utah authorities and wrote, “The Embassy has initiated its emergency protocols, sent personnel to the area, and will assist the victims as need.”

California company owns the bus

The bus that crashed is a registered to company called America Shengjai, in Ontario, California.

America Shengjai operates two buses, according to the U.S.Department of Transportation. It’s unclear which of the two buses crashed.

Both buses are limousine-style coach buses built in 2016 and 2017, according to a Carfax.com report on the vehicle identification numbers.

Neither bus has been involved in any crashes or cited for major safety violations, according to the DOT.

The National Transportation Safety Board announced on Twitter that a 10-member team will arrive at the crash site on Saturday to investigate the accident.

NTSB will coordinate with UHP, but UHP also will conduct their own investigation, according to NTSB on Twitter.

Bus crashed 7 miles from park entrance

The bus crashed at mile marker 10 on State Route 12 at about 11:30 a.m., according to the the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office. That’s about 7 miles from the park entrance.

The highway was closed and UHP asked motorists to avoid the area if possible.

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About Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah, about 130 to 140 miles in driving distance from St. George (depending on your route) and about 270 miles in driving distance from Salt Lake City.

Tour buses are a common sight at Bryce Canyon, with tours often starting in Las Vegas or Salt Lake City and also visiting nearby national parks like Zion and the Grand Canyon.

Bryce Canyon, though less heavily visited than Zion, hosted 2.7 million recreational visitors in 2018, according to the National Park Service.

Contributing: David DeMille, Robert Anglen, Bree Burkitt and Lexi Peery

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