After Fatal Bus Crash, an Unusual Call for Help

Utah authorities needed translators who spoke Mandarin
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2019 10:05 AM CDT
After Fatal Bus Crash, an Unusual Call for Help
Two Utah Highway patrolmen continue to work the scene where at least four people were killed in a tour bus crash near Bryce Canyon National Park, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Utah.   (Spenser Heaps/The Deseret News via AP)

After a fatal tour bus crash, Utah authorities made an unusual request—for Chinese translators, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. The Friday crash near Bryce Canyon National Park left at least four dead and the other 27 injured, including the driver. A resident who responded after hearing the crash described a heartbreaking scene. "We just tried to help," said Robert Driedonks, who owns a museum nearby. "Put blankets on. Taped them up. I tried to comfort a guy who was sitting next to his dead wife. It's pretty tough to [check] people's wrists and necks and they're not breathing." But as victims were taken to three Utah hospitals, authorities faced another challenge: Every tourist on board was a Chinese national and most spoke only Mandarin, per Reuters.

So Garfield County fired off a text message seeking Mandarin speakers at one hospital, and Southern Utah University sent four students and staff members to help interpret and identify the victims. A firefighter from Panguitch who also spoke the language joined in. "We are thankful to authorities in Utah for their assistance," tweeted the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, per USA Today. "The Embassy has initiated its emergency protocols, sent personnel to the area, and will assist the victims as needed." Authorities aren't sure what caused the crash, but say the "multitasking" driver—who had a microphone—might have let the bus to drift off State Route 12 before he over-corrected, causing the bus to roll. (A recent tour bus plunge left 19 dead.)

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