Published May 20, 2007
CLEARFIELD, Pa. – A bus bound for New York veered off a highway and crashed in central Pennsylvania early Sunday, killing two people and injuring 32 others, authorities said.
The bus was traveling eastbound on Interstate 80 with 36 people on board when it crashed 6 miles west of Clearfield at about 3:30 a.m., state police said.
It 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, state police Trooper Jamie Levier said at an afternoon news conference.
Authorities did not immediately release any information about the two people who died.
Several people, ranging in age from a toddler to a 50-year-old, were taken to Clearfield Hospital, and others were transferred to Altoona Hospital. One person was admitted to Clearfield Hospital with serious injuries but was stable, while the rest were treated and released, hospital spokeswoman Amy Duke said.
Another victim was taken directly to Altoona Hospital, which had two people listed in serious condition and seven in guarded condition, nursing supervisor Ann Langenbacher said.
Investigators initially had some difficulty piecing together what happened because most of the passengers did not speak English, Levier said. State police took a Chinese interpreter, Du Hua, to Clearfield Hospital to help communicate with the victims.
Hua said most of the passengers told him they were sleeping at the time of the crash.
"The thing they remember, they woke up by the screaming," Hua said. "The next thing they knew, they were on the ground."
The hospital has been in contact with the Chinese consulate in New York to help notify the families of victims.
It had been raining in the area overnight. Some of the victims who arrived at the hospital were wearing wet clothes, a nurse supervisor said.
Authorities declined comment on the cause of the accident and said the investigation continued.
"We have loss of life here, we have a major crash, and anytime you have a crash of this nature, obviously we want to make sure we have all the facts in place," Levier said. "We still have a lot of questions."
Police said the bus had been traveling from Chicago.
Yuk Sau Wong, of OK Travel Bus Inc. in New York, said the bus, one of two or three the company owns, left Youngstown, Ohio, between midnight and 1 a.m. She said the bus line mainly serves the Chinese community but also carries other passengers.
The vehicle, which had its windshield blown out and its front bumper torn off, was towed away just before 11 a.m., and the highway reopened minutes later.
Wong initially said the bus had been contracted out but later said she had been mistaken and her company was operating it.
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.
Clearfield is about 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.