Black ice to blame in fatal bus crash: lawyer

A tour bus owned by a Coquitlam company crashed in Oregon on Dec. 30, 2012, killing nine people and injuring 38. - OREGON STATE POLICE
A tour bus owned by a Coquitlam company crashed in Oregon on Dec. 30, 2012, killing nine people and injuring 38.
— image credit: OREGON STATE POLICE

A tour bus owned by a Coquitlam company involved in a fatal crash last month slid on black ice, a lawyer representing Mi Joo Tour and Travel said this week.

On Wednesday, Seattle attorney Mark Scheer told a press conference that the Mi Joo bus driver was travelling on a dangerous road — one that has had a history of motor-vehicle accidents — when the accident happened on Dec. 30.

And contrary to allegations made in a lawsuit filed earlier this week by the guardian of two young bus passengers injured in the crash, the driver was not overtired that day. Haeng Kyu Hwang, 54, had slept seven and a half hours the previous night and had been on the road for two and a half hours from Boise when the bus crashed, he said.

Nine people died and 38 passengers were injured when the tour bus lost control, ran through a guardrail and fell about 200 feet down an embankment in Pendleton, Ore. The accident was the state's deadliest in 40 years.

Mi Joo Tour and Travel, located at 207-403 North Rd., Coquitlam, has temporarily closed its operations in Canada. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation also ordered it to cease operations in the United States, claiming Hwang had spent 92 hours driving the bus during the eight-day trip of the western USA — 22 hours more than the maximum time allowed.

A U.S. transportation department document reads: "Following the crash, on Jan. 2, 2013, FMCSA [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration] began an unannounced compliance review and investigation on Mi Joo Tour and Travel.

"To date, the ongoing compliance review and investigation has discovered a deterioration in [the] safety management controls and widespread safety violations that demonstrate a continuing and flagrant general disregard for compliance with the FMCSRs, particularly with hours of service regulations, and a management philosophy indifferent to motor carrier safety."

Between 2010 and 2011, the department cited Mi Joo for 19 violations, including failing to ensure its drivers are rested and their hours are logged.

Yesterday, B.C.'s Ministry of Transportation issued a statement saying it is working with the American government on its safety audit. As well, it is carrying out its own audit, which will be concluded shortly. Before the bus crash, Mi Joo had maintained a "satisfactory" safety rating, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, Oregon State Police on Tuesday released the last name of the passenger killed in the bus crash. He is Richard Sohn, 19, of Bellevue, Wash.

The other deceased are: Youmin Kim, 11, of South Korea; Oun Hong Jung, 67, of South Korea and his wife, Joong Wha Kim, 63; Dale William Osborn, 57, of Spanaway, Wash.; Chun Ho Bahn, 63, of Bothell, Wash; Ae Ja Kim, 61, of South Korea; Yong Ho Lee, 75, of Lynnwood, Wash.; and Seokmin Moon, 55, of Maple Ridge.


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