The National Transportation Safety Board in Washington D. C. released its findings last week on the horrific bus crash which killed nine people and injured scores of others in San Juan County on January 6, 2008.
The accident occurred near Mexican Hat. The bus was returning home to Phoenix loaded with skiers who had been in Vail, CO.
Investigators blamed the accident on excessive speed and driver fatigue. The driver admitted he hadn’t been feeling well, that he suffered from sleep apnea and that he had gotten little sleep the night before the return trip.
Investigators said the bus was traveling between 88 and 92 miles an hour when it left the road and rolled, shearing off the top of the bus and ejecting 51 of the 53 people on board.
The crash is being used by the NTSB to develop recommendations for increased bus safety, including seat belts to keep people from being ejected and stronger roofs for buses so they will not completely shear off when rolling, as was the case in this accident.
Additionally, they plan to make bus companies more liable and responsible for making sure their drivers are fit to drive.
This incident was the most deadly single vehicle crash in San Juan County history. Because the accident occurred late at night in an area with no cell phone service, little highway traffic and long distances from medical personnel and facilities, it was over an hour before first responders arrived on the scene. Emergency personnel from communities all over the Four Corners assisted in getting the injured to several area hospitals.
San Juan County EMTs, law enforcement officers and doctors handled most of the carnage and received much praise from victims and investigators for handling an overwhelming disaster in such a professional manner.