A bus carrying Chinese tourists crashed near Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah, killing at least 4 people and leaving multiple passengers critically injured, authorities said.
The tour bus crashed Friday morning near a rest area on Utah Highway 12 in Garfield County. Thirty people, including the driver, were on the bus when it “ran off the road and rolled into the guardrail,” the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Between 12 and 15 passengers suffered “very critical injuries” and 10 passengers had minor to serious injuries, the Utah Highway Patrol said. All the injured passengers were taken to area hospitals, including several by helicopter, the highway patrol said.
Photos provided by the Utah Highway Patrol showed first responders treating passengers on the road, just feet away from the heavily damaged bus.
Employees of the nearby Bryce Canyon Resort told CNN their manager was called to crash scene to assist first responders with translating for the Chinese tour group. The manager is one of the few Chinese speakers in the area, the hotel staff said.
Seventeen people are being treated at Garfield Memorial Hospital in Panguitch, Utah, said Lance Madigan, a spokesman with Intermountain Healthcare.
Three people are in critical condition, 11 are in serious condition and three are in fair condition, Madigan said.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert thanked first responders for their work and sent a message to the victim’s families.
“My heart sank when I heard the news that a tour bus crashed near Bryce Canyon. I grieve with all who lost loved ones in this crash and I’m grateful for the quick work of first responders, as well as all those who are volunteering to act as translators,” he tweeted.
The highway has been closed in both directions approximately 3.5 miles west of the park while the Utah Highway Patrol investigates the crash.
The wreck took place about 7 miles northwest of the entrance of the Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce Canyon is about 250 miles south of Salt Lake City and just over 40 miles north of the Utah-Arizona border.
Utah’s Highway 12 is considered one of the most varied and scenic drives in the country. It connects a number of national and state parks, including Bryce Canyon National Park and Red Canyon on the Dixie National Forest.