Company in Oregon bus crash banned from Canadian roads

Company in Oregon bus crash banned from Canadian roads
Photo by Oregon State Police

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Vancouver-based company whose bus crashed on an icy Oregon highway last month, killing nine passengers, has been banned from Canada roads, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said Friday.

The ministry's Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement branch investigated Mi Joo Tour & Travel after the Dec. 30 crash east of Pendleton and determined it wasn't following British Columbia law regarding pre-trip inspections and driver hours of service. The ministry said the suspension of bus operations is effective immediately.

The action comes three days after the U.S. Department of Transportation revoked the company's authority to provide passenger service in the United States.

The U.S. agency, among several allegations, said the company routinely dispatches drivers without ensuring they are properly rested. Their investigation found that driver Haeng Kyu Hwang had been on duty for 92 hours in the eight-day stretch before the crash, exceeding the 70-hour federal limit.

Company attorney Mark P. Scheer said this week the driver had plenty of sleep the night before the crash and that black ice was a major factor in the bus losing control. Scheer did not immediately return a call regarding the Canadian audit.

Canadian officials said Friday that Mi Joo Tour & Travel had a satisfactory road-safety rating for the past three years and had not been involved in any major accidents. The company must provide a detailed response to the ministry by Feb. 28, if it wants its buses to regain access to Canadian roads.

The Oregon State Police and National Transportation Safety Board have yet to say what caused the crash that also left 38 injured, including the driver.

A witness, Tina Saxton, of Glide, Ore., told The Oregonian newspaper Wednesday that the bus driver looked "like he didn't even see us" as he approached the back of the car driven by her husband, which had been backed up in traffic. Saxton said the bus swerved into the left lane and started fishtailing.

The crash occurred on a cold, foggy morning just before an infamous downgrade known as Cabbage Hill. A snowplow had applied sand to the road a few hours before the crash and was behind the bus making another run when the tragedy occurred.

The trip started in Vancouver and went through Southern California, Las Vegas and Grand Canyon National Park before heading north to Boise, Idaho. On the ninth and final day of the tour, the bus departed a Boise hotel at 7:30 a.m. and traveled 203 miles before hitting a concrete barrier, plunging through a guardrail and 200 feet down an embankment.