By now most Oregonians will have read or heard about the terrible New Year’s weekend bus crash on Deadman’s Pass in the east of the state. According to The Oregonian, nine people died and dozens were injured last weekend when a tour bus “skidded off Interstate 84 east of Pendleton and rolled 200 feet down a mountain canyon.”
The newspaper quotes an Oregon state police spokesman saying that 39 injured people were taken to hospitals across three states. A total of 49 people were aboard the bus at the time of the accident, meaning that only one person avoided injury in this Oregon bus crash. The newspaper reports that the passengers ranged in age from seven to 73 years old. Most were Americans and Canadians of Korean ancestry.
The bus was reportedly returning from an excursion to Las Vegas at the time of the accident, which occurred on a dangerous stretch of the Cabbage Hill section of I-84. “Oregon state police investigators will look into the possibility that (the) bus driver… was driving too fast for the slippery conditions on the notorious mountain pass,” according to the paper. “Investigators will also determine if driver fatigue was a factor,” The Oregonian reports.
As the investigation unfolds the possibility of Oregon wrongful death charges will have to be considered. Operating a packed tour bus on a road that is well known to be dangerous even in good weather requires a special degree of care and caution on the part of both the vehicle’s driver and the company employing him. Other subjects that investigators ought to examine as the investigation moves forward are the bus’ maintenance history and the status of key parts. If, for example, the tires were worn out of defective that could have been a factor in the accident. A thorough investigation of these and other potential contributors to the crash is an essential first step toward determining the exact circumstances of the crash.
As a Portland wrongful death attorney experienced in large vehicle crash cases it seems likely that this terrible accident will occupy Oregon’s courts for many months to come. The important thing for survivors and loved ones at a time like this is to understand that the Oregon and US court systems are here to offer them a fair hearing and, ultimately, justice in the wake of this holiday tragedy.