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Bus crash in icy Montana kills 2, injures dozens

Bus crash in icy Montana kills 2, injures dozens

A bus crashed Sunday on an icy interstate highway in southwestern Montana, killing two people and sending more than 30 others to area hospitals, officials said.
The westbound Rimrock Trailways bus crashed on Interstate 90 about 18 miles (29 kilometers) southeast of Missoula, shortly after 7 a.m., Dan Ronan of the American Bus Association said. All of the 34 people on board were either injured or killed.
The crash was one of several reported along that stretch of highway Sunday morning, closing both eastbound and westbound lanes of an 8-mile (13-kilometer) section of the interstate between Clinton and Turah. It was not clear if there were additional injuries, or how many.
Two people died in the bus crash, Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott Hoffman said. He expected the death toll to rise.
St. Patrick Hospital spokeswoman JoAnne Hoven said four of the 10 passengers taken to the Missoula hospital were in critical condition. Four others were in in serious condition, and two were treated and released, she said.
Mary Windecker, spokeswoman for the Community Medical Center, also in Missoula, said 20 passengers were taken there to be treated for various injuries, none critical
Those suffering the worst injuries appeared to have been ejected when the bus slid on its side and bounced, breaking out the windows on the driver's side. Three people were pinned under the bus. Hoffman said the driver was among the seriously injured.
He said the estimated speed of the bus was 65 to 70 mph (105 to 113 kph), and that it slid 150 feet (45 meters) when it entered the median, though it's unclear how long it might have been out of control before that.
"When it went on its side, because of the speed involved, it had a bouncing motion," Hoffman said. "And as it did people were ejected through those windows."
The cause of the crash was not yet known, though it is believed icy conditions were a factor, Ronan said.
The speed limit in the area is 75 mph (121 kph), but Montana law requires motorists to travel at a speed that is safe for the conditions, and Hoffman said authorities were investigating whether the bus was going too fast.
"We have no other indications of another vehicle being involved," Hoffman said. "We think he was simply going too fast for the road conditions. We had one passenger state already that they felt the bus driver was going too fast right before the crash.
"We're pretty sure what happened is the conditions rapidly changed and went from wet to icy."
The bus was headed west from Billings to Missoula.
It was unclear when the interstate would reopen. Tucker said multiple crashes occasionally occur in that area when conditions become treacherous.
The bus company, Rimrock Trailways, was founded in 1972 in Billings and has 18 buses. The company had not had a fatal accident for 27 years prior to Sunday's crash, Ronan said.


Updated : 2021-04-21 00:50 GMT+08:00