Tour Bus Driver in Deadly Crash Was on First Trip

4 Chinese tourists died in Utah crash
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 23, 2019 4:26 AM CDT
Tour Bus Driver in Deadly Crash Was on First Trip
The remains of a bus that crashed while carrying Chinese-speaking tourists lie along State Route 12 near Bryce Canyon National Park, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Utah, as authorities continue to investigate.   (Spenser Heaps/The Deseret News via AP)

(Newser) – The driver of a tour bus that crashed near a national park in Utah on Friday, killing four Chinese tourists and injuring dozens more, was making his first trip for a company that had only been in business for a short time, investigators said Sunday. The National Transportation Safety Board is researching the driver's background, license qualification, and medical history, said Pete Kotowski, an investigator-in-charge for the agency, at a news conference Sunday night. He didn't disclose the driver's name but said he's from California, the AP reports. The agency has not yet interviewed him. The driver is a US citizen and he didn't appear to be intoxicated, the Utah Highway Patrol said previously.

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The NTSB is also researching the bus company's inspection history, hiring practices, and corporate safety culture, Kotowski said. The company, called America Shengjia Inc., is cooperating with investigators, he said. He said it had been in business for a "short period of time," but didn't say exactly how long. The cause of the Friday crash near Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah has yet to be determined, Kotowski said. They're examining the crash scene as well as the mid-sized 2017 bus. Utah Highway Patrol officials previously said it appeared the driver swerved and overcorrected, sending the bus rolling over into a guardrail near a highway rest stop a few miles from the national park. Four people died and five others were in critical condition as of Saturday night. All 31 people on board were hurt.

(Read more tour bus crash stories.)

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