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Archive for Monday, May 21, 2007

2 dead, 32 hurt in Pa. tour bus crash

May 21, 2007

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— A bus veered off a highway and crashed in central Pennsylvania early Sunday, killing two people and injuring 32 others, authorities said.

The bus was eastbound on Interstate 80 with 36 people on board when it crashed six miles west of Clearfield around 3:30 a.m., state police said.

The bus ran off the right side of the two-lane highway before veering left across the roadway, running up an embankment and flipping onto its side in a grassy area, Trooper Jamie Levier said at an afternoon news conference.

Thirty-two people ranging in age from a toddler to a 50-year-old were treated for wounds including lung and abdominal injuries, hospital officials said.

Investigators initially had difficulty piecing together what happened because most of the passengers were Asian and did not speak English, Trooper Terry Jordan said. An interpreter was brought in as authorities worked to identify the victims.

The interpreter, Du Hua, said the families told him they were sleeping at the time of the crash.

"The thing they remember, they woke up screaming," Hua said. "The next thing they knew, they were on the ground."

Hospital officials and Hua said they have been in contact with the Chinese consulate in New York to help notify the families of victims.

It had been raining overnight, and some of the victims arrived at the hospital wearing wet clothes, a nursing supervisor said.

Some victims who had been released from Clearfield Hospital wore hospital scrubs as they waited for transportation home.

Luggage was strewn over the highway following the crash, and authorities were trying to recover what was left of the passengers' belongings from the bus Sunday afternoon.

Police said the bus started its trip in Chicago. Yuk Sau Wong of OK Travel Bus Inc. said the bus, one of two or three the company owns, left Youngstown, Ohio, after midnight and was headed for New York City. She said the bus line mainly serves Chinese customers but also carries other passengers.

A nine-mile stretch of the eastbound portion of the highway was closed for most of Sunday morning, but was reopened after the bus was towed away just before 11 a.m.

Clearfield is about 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

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