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First responder at fatal Bryce Canyon accident describes crash scene

A bus involved in a fatal accident near Bryce Canyon on Friday, September 20, 2019. 12 people remain in the hospitals around Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY — Robert Driedonks owns a museum located on Highway 12. He says that he heard the bus crash that killed at least four people and injured at least 12 more on Friday.

“I was on my second story … and I heard, like, a bomb,” Driedonks told KSL Newsradio. “I looked over and I saw a double trailer cement truck and a bus destroyed.”

The Garfield County Sheriff’s office says the bus, filled with tourists from China, was traveling east on Highway 12 when it ran off the road and rolled into a guardrail. There were 30 people on board, including the driver. The Utah Highway Patrol says the crash happened at mile marker 10 on Highway 12 which is just east of Panguitch, Utah.

Utah Highway Patrol Corporal Chris Bishop confirmed four fatalities as a result of the accident. As of mid-afternoon on Friday, the Garfield County Sheriff’s office reported that 17 people had been taken to hospitals in southern Utah.

Driedonks was one of the first first responders to reach the scene.

He says the bus did not hit another vehicle, it overcorrected and rolled.”When I got there I took three people’s pulse and they were already dead.” He said the bus had landed on them.

“There were quite a few serious, serious injuries … it was a terrible, terrible thing.” Driedonks saw one person being life-flighted to a hospital. He said ambulances from all of the nearby counties were at the scene.

“There were at least 25 or 30 people hurt pretty bad.” He remembers that it was “a terrible thing seeing husbands crying holding their wives.”

Driedonks says that he stayed and helped for several hours, giving people blankets and treatment for shock.

“I don’t want to ever do it again…when you see a husband hold his wife that’s crushed and swollen… you try to give them comfort but there’s not much you can do.”

Utah Highway Patrol is coordinating with the State Bureau of Investigation now to determine the cause of the crash.