Tourists from China sue Utah after 2019 deadly tour bus crash near Bryce Canyon

This 2019 file photo released by the Garfield County Sheriff's Office shows a tour bus that crashed near Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah on Sept. 20, 2019. The tour bus that crashed and killed four Chinese tourists near a national park in Utah in 2019 had problems earlier that day with the engine not starting | Associated Press file photo courtesy of Sheriff Danny Perkins/Garfield County Sheriff's Office, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The state of Utah didn’t do enough to make sure a remote highway was safe before a tour bus crashed, killing four people from China and injuring two dozen more in 2019, family and survivors said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

This 2019 file photo shows the remains of a bus that crashed while carrying Chinese-speaking tourists on state Route 12 near Bryce Canyon National Park, Sept. 20, 2019 | Photo by Spenser Heaps/The Deseret News via The Associated Press, St. George News

The lawsuit alleges state transportation officials failed to post warning signs, had a road design that left little room for error and included no rumble strip to warn drivers they were getting close to the edge.

More than a dozen people were thrown from the bus after the driver drifted off the road and overcorrected when he steered back, sending the bus into a rollover. All 30 people on board were hurt.

The lawsuit said the unpaved shoulder was too deep and soft, requiring the driver to steer harder to get back onto the road after passing through a too-narrow buffer zone. It had been repaved the day before, creating a dangerous contrast with the rough shoulder, the lawsuit said.

The Utah Department of Transportation declined to comment on the case filed against it and several contractors, citing its policy on pending litigation. The National Transportation Safety Board previously found highway design, signage and other characteristics were not factors in the crash.

Four people in their 60s died in the crash and several more suffered serious injuries. The group of older adults from China was on a seven-day tour operated by America Shengjia Inc., a tour bus company based in Ontario, California. The tour started in Los Angeles and was set to end in Salt Lake City.

This 2019 file photo shows the aftermath of a fatal bus crash near Bryce Canyon National Park on SR-12 that left four people dead and several others injured, Kane County, Utah, Sept. 20, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The company is facing at least four lawsuits in federal court in California brought by surviving passengers and family members of those killed, alleging wrongful death, negligence and infliction of emotional distress.

The Utah lawsuit seeks unspecified damages to make up for lost wages, medical bills and emotional suffering. It was first reported by KUTV in Salt Lake City.

The bus crashed a few miles from Bryce Canyon National Park, which is known for its intricately shaped red-rock spires called hoodoos.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigation found a lack of safety standards for bus roofs and windows contributed to the death and injury toll. Its final report, released in June, also cited inconsistent seat belt use and recommended a lane-departure warning system for commercial buses.

The report ruled out driver problems like intoxication or speeding. An earlier report had found the bus had problems starting earlier in the day, but further examination found no mechanical issues or other malfunctions, it said.

The driver had told investigators the road felt “slippery,” and it was newly paved at the time, but tests showed normal friction, the report found.

Written by LINDSAY WHITEHURST, The Associated Press. Associated Press writer Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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