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3 Japanese tourists killed when bus crashes in Utah

Authorities said the driver of the bus was not paying attention when he lost control Monday outside Cedar City, Utah. Authorities said the driver of the bus was not paying attention when he lost control Monday outside Cedar City, Utah. (Nur Kausar/The Spectrum/Associated Press)
Associated Press / August 11, 2010

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SALT LAKE CITY — A tour bus careened off a Utah highway and rolled over, killing three Japanese tourists and injuring 11 others after the driver lost control of the vehicle, authorities said yesterday.

The driver of the tour bus, who received minor injuries, was distracted or drowsy when he lost control of the bus Monday evening just outside Cedar City, the Utah Highway Patrol said.

Half of the 14 passengers in the Japanese tour group were flown in critical condition to hospitals in the Salt Lake City area, 250 miles away, including a 14-year girl from Osaka, Japan, according to authorities.

One hospital spokesman said doctors used a telephone interpreter service to communicate with the injured passengers.

The accident killed a 20-year-old man from Osaka, a 38-year-old man from Tokyo, and a 40-year-old woman from Tokyo, according to a spokesman from the Nippon Travel Agency. Their names were not released.

The van-sized bus ended up in a mangled heap on its top, wheels up, just off the highway. The passengers’ luggage was scattered across the median.

The group was on its way to Bryce Canyon National Park when the bus veered off Interstate 15 in southern Utah.

The bus driver, a 26-year-old Japanese man, was driving along a straight stretch of the interstate in clear weather when he drove into the median and tried to steer back onto the highway, said Utah Highway Patrol Sergeant Ted Tingey.

The driver had minor injuries and spoke to investigators after he was released from a hospital.

“From all indications, the driver was not focused or paying attention on his driving,’’ Tingey said.

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