A tour bus en route to Cumberland, Maryland’s Rocky Gap Casino Resort crashed in Pennsylvania on Sunday, injuring 26 of the 33 passengers on board and shaking up the remainder. The crash took place at about 2:20 p.m. Sunday afternoon along State Route 220 in Bedford County’s Cumberland Valley Township in the southeastern part of the state, not far from the Maryland border. Route 220 was closed for some time following the accident.
Initial reports from the crash scene indicate that the driver of the Altoona-based Freedom Excursions tour bus, 65-year-old Terrance Harold Shultz, may have been operating the bus too quickly for conditions at the time that he lost control of the vehicle and it crashed into a roadside embankment. The exact speed if the bus at the time of the accident has not been released. Road conditions in the area were challenging for Pennsylvania motorists throughout the day as snow continuously fell making roads slick and visibility was poor. Numerous other accidents were reported in the area as well.
A reported total of 25 EMS units from surrounding Pennsylvania counties responded to the site of the tour bus crash to assist. Of the 26 passengers on board taken to two local hospitals following the tour bus crash, 23 were treated and released with relatively minor injuries. The status of the remaining three passengers is unknown at this time.
Today’s bus crash marks the second significant bus accident in Pennsylvania in recent months. Last October a Greyhound bus carrying 49 passengers crashed just south of Williamsport on I-80 in Union County in the central part of the state. The October crash occurred when the bus slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer on its a non-stop journey from New York City to Cleveland, Ohio and was deadly, killing one, a visitor to the U.S. from Vietnam, critically injuring four, including the driver, and leaving dozens of others injured and scattered among five area hospitals.
The driver of the tractor-trailer in that crash, 36-year-old Akos Gubica, became a bit of hero as he entered the smashed bus to rescue trapped passengers and assist them in exiting the wreckage.
Pennsylvania State Police reported in December that the investigation into the October Greyhound bus crash was ongoing, and that Greyhound had fully cooperated with their efforts to reconstruct the accident. The driver of the bus was reportedly a 12-year-veteran of the company.
Greyhound has been feeling some heat in recent months not only because of the October crash but because of another crash that occurred just outside of Cincinnati in September as well. That crash resulted in more than 30 injuries after the bus drifted off the road, slammed into a tree and ultimately came to rest on its side. The driver of the bus involved in that crash has been charged with a misdemeanor count of failing to operate a vehicle with reasonable control, as he admitted that he had been drinking coffee when he began to cough, choke and eventually passed out behind the wheel.
The crash of the Pennsylvania tour bus that resulted today in injuries to 26 on board will no doubt be the subject of intense scrutiny and investigation as well.
By Michele Wessel