Bus co. stripped of authority to drive in U.S. after fatal crash

Bus co. stripped of authority to drive in U.S. after fatal crash
Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a multiple-fatality accident after a tour bus careened through a guardrail along an icy highway and fell several hundred feet down a steep embankment, authorities said, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012 about 15 miles east of Pendleton, Ore. The charter bus carrying about 40 people lost control around 10:30 a.m. on the snow- and ice-covered lanes of Interstate 84, according to the Oregon State Police. (AP Photo/East Oregonian, Tim Trainor)

PORTLAND, Ore. – A tour bus company can no longer operate in the United States after one of its buses last month was involved in a fatal crash in Eastern Oregon that killed nine people, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Tuesday.

The department said it revoked the ability of the Canadian bus company Mi Joo Tour & Travel's authority to provide bus passenger service after an investigation found the company failed to schedule drivers to make sure they got enough rest.

In a news release, department spokesman Duane DeBruyne said the Oregon crash investigation revealed the driver of the bus, Haeng Kyu Hwang, had been on duty well beyond the federal maximum limit of 70 hours of service over eight days.

Hwang lost control of his bus on snow and ice on Interstate 84 near Pendleton on Dec. 30, 2012 and went about 200 feet down an embankment. In addition to the nine killed, 39 people were injured.

The Department of Transportation also found the bus company did not have practices in place to monitor its drivers.

"The safety of all travelers on our highways and roads remains our highest priority," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. "We will move quickly to shut down bus companies that do not operate safely."

According to the Department of Transportation, the bus company was cited in 2011 for failing to meet U.S. drug and alcohol testing requirements. It was fined but did not initially pay the fine and subsequently had its authority to operate in the United States suspended for about two months. It was allowed to provide service again after it paid its fine but was fined again in 2010 for drug and alcohol testing violations for its drivers.

Ninth victim identified

Earlier Tuesday, police released the name of the ninth victim killed in the crash.

He was Richard Michael Sohn, 19, of Bellevue, Wash.

Eight of the 38 injured people are still recovering at a hospital, according to Lt. Gregg Hastings with Oregon State Police.

The bus was returning to Vancouver, British Columbia, on the final leg of a nine-day tour of the western United States. The trip was organized by a British Columbia travel agency to carry tourists traveling in small groups. Most of the passengers were Korean.

Sunday, two surviving passengers filed a lawsuit against the company that owns the bus.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.