PENDLETON, Ore. – The victims in the charter bus crash that killed nine people and injured 39 others were from the U.S., Canada, South Korea and Japan, according to Oregon State Police Lieutenant Gregg Hastings. The passengers ranged in age from 7 to 74.
Hastings said that included 64-year-old Michael Sohn, who at first was thought to be from Milwaukie, Ore. but family has now confirmed Sohn lives in Everett, WA with his wife and son who were also on the bus. Names of other passengers injured in the accident have been released but the names of the fatalities have not been revealed. They're expected to be released Tuesday.
“This tragedy extends definitely beyond the borders of our state … it’s touched many lives,” Hastings said during Monday's press briefing. He called it a "horrible, tragic" crash.
The bus slid on ice and crashed down an embankment on Interstate 84 near Pendleton Sunday morning.
"Everybody was either thrown from the bus or in the bus. We had several who were entrapped in the bus and we had to perform extraction to disentangle them to remove them,” said Pendleton Fire Chief Gary Woodson.
A federal agency has sent two investigators to the site and it may take four weeks or longer to uncover all the details of what happened, Hastings said. On Monday, investigators were still trying to compile all the passenger information. Hastings said the names would be posted on the OSP website as they become available.
Twenty-two-year-old Berlyn Sanderson of Canada says windows on the bus broke as it careened down the embankment, and she and a number of others were thrown out. She said the bus began skidding on ice before it hit the guardrail.
The driver of the charter bus lost control on the icy westbound lanes of the interstate just after 10 a.m., Hastings said. The bus then crashed through a guardrail near milepost 227 and went down the embankment.
Photos: Scene of deadly I-84 bus crash
The bus traveled a couple hundred feet before coming to a rest, Hastings said. Crews trained for rope rescues were at the scene helping retrieve people from the wreckage.
Umatilla County emergency managers said the response from medics and rescue crews was overwhelming. Several victims had to be loaded onto stretchers and hauled up to waiting ambulances.
St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton confirmed 18 patients were brought in Sunday. Many of the patients were taken by air to other hospitals due to the severity of their injuries, Hastings said. Other patients were taken to Oregon Health and Science University and Legacy Emanuel in Portland.
The bus driver was among the survivors, but with severe injuries that made it impossible to communicate with investigators. The Associated Press reported the driver likely had a medical episode.
There were a total of 49 people on the bus. It was a charter from Mi Joo Tour & Travel of Vancouver, British Columbia and was en route to British Columbia from Las Vegas. Some of the passengers were exchange students from South Korea.
A phone line for family members was set up at 503-375-3555
The bus crash was the second fatal crash on I-84 in Northeast Oregon due to icy conditions on Sunday morning. A 69-year-old man died in a rollover crash at about 7:30 a.m. on I-84 near Stanfield.