Arizona Tour Bus Crash Injures 27
Last Thursday, a tour bus carrying 52 passengers flipped onto its side as it drove down a dirt road on an agricultural sightseeing trip just a few miles north of the Arizona-Mexico border. The accident left more than two dozen people injured.
According to the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, the bus had apparently been driving on a field-access dirt road, but while it attempted to make a turn on an embankment, the bus ended up turning over onto its side. While police said it was too soon to determine the exact cause of the crash, it would seem that the back tires of the bus sunk into the embankment, which was made of very soft sand. They continue to investigate.
Of the 27 known to be injured, two were flown by medical helicopter to a trauma center in Phoenix, while five others were flown to the much closer Yuma Regional Medical Center in the Arizona border town of Yuma, which is located about 150 miles east of San Diego, and another 18 were transported via ambulance to the Yuma hospital. One was treated at the scene and released. The injured passengers ranged in age from 27 to 82.
The tour group was on an agricultural trip referred to as Field to Feast, organized by the Yuma Visitors Bureau. Such tours are actually very common in the Yuma area between January and March, which is their prime growing season. Most tours feature a narrated bus ride through farm fields, followed by a lunch made from a variety of locally grown produce. This particular tour was looking at fields of celery and cabbage when the bus tipped over.
The tour bus was being operated by Phoenix-based bus company Tour West America, which was founded in Yuma in 1986. The company says it provides charter service and tours in metropolitan Phoenix, Yuma and other lower Colorado River cities. In addition to the agricultural tours, they also offer vacation and cruise packages.
Bus companies and bus drivers are held to higher legal standards regarding training and the number of hours they’re allowed to drive. Every aspect of this accident will be investigated thoroughly to determine whether all standards were upheld, and whether the driver was properly trained and rested. Investigators will also examine the bus to determine whether it was defective, and if it had been maintained properly. In light of the preliminary speculation made by police, they will likely also examine the dirt road.