Negligent homicide case eyed in fatal Greyhound bus crash

A Greyhound bus rests in a steep wash after going off the road on Interstate 70, Emery County, Utah, Dec. 31, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Utah Department of Public Safety, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Police are investigating a possible negligent homicide case against a Greyhound bus driver who passengers said passed out before the bus careened off a road in the Utah desert, killing a teenage girl and injuring 12 more people, search warrants made public Wednesday show.

Investigators tested the blood of driver Charles Edward Saunders, 62, after finding cold medicine at the scene and getting reports he slumped over the wheel before the crash, the documents state.

The results of the test were not released and no charges have yet been filed.

Greyhound declined to comment specifically on the case and about Saunders’ record with the company. Greyhound policy requires ill drivers to book time off, following federal guidelines, said spokeswoman Lanesha Gipson. Drivers are also required to inform a manager if they take any kind of medication, she said.

Saunders was critically injured in the New Year’s Eve crash and is now in good condition, Utah Valley Hospital spokeswoman Janet Frank said Wednesday.

No attorney is listed for Saunders, who has a Nevada driver’s license, and there was no immediate response to a message left at a publicly listed phone number.

Passengers told police that Saunders had been complaining of illness and not feeling well, the documents state. One rider told investigators that Saunders fell asleep and had to be awakened by passengers on the route to Las Vegas.

A person seated directly behind the driver told police he later had a coughing fit and slumped over the wheel shortly before the bus swerved off the highway and plunged into a ravine about 300 miles south of Salt Lake City, the documents state.

Summer Pinzon, 13, of Azusa, California, was killed and a dozen more people were hurt in the late-night crash along Interstate 70.

A total of 14 people were on board the bus. Most passengers escaped by climbing out of a rear window, and some flagged down a truck driver for help.

Written by LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • Caveat_Emptor January 26, 2018 at 8:48 am

    Greyhound will have to review their internal procedures, since even though they may have rules controlling drivers’ use of medication, they need to have some mechanism to randomly test for conformance………..This tragedy should encourage bus passengers to carefully intervene if they experience a drowsy, or otherwise impaired driver.

  • comments January 26, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    Some of these over the counter cold medicines actually will impair a persons driving quite a lot. over the counter does not mean side effect free. I learned this first hand–nothing very bad thk gd

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