Twelve people including seven children were injured Saturday afternoon when a charter bus returning from Yosemite National Park hit a tree on Highway 41 north of Oakhurst, the California Highway Patrol reported.
Two people had major injuries and 10 had minor injuries, including the driver, the CHP said. The bus was carrying 22 people: a group of students ranging in age from 12 to 15 years and four chaperones.
The cause of the crash was not yet known. The bus was equipped with seatbelts, the CHP said.
The crash was reported at 5:36 p.m. at Highway 41 and Road 630, the CHP said. Patients were being transported by three helicopters and nine ambulances to Community Regional Medical Center and Valley Children’s Hospital, the CHP reported. The parking lots of the Vons grocery store and Batterson ranger station were being used for helicopter landing pads.
Five patients were admitted to Community Regional, of whom two were in critical condition and three were in stable condition Saturday evening, hospital spokeswoman Mary Lisa Russell said. Chinese translators are helping medical personnel speak with the patients, she said.
Condition reports of the patients at Valley Children’s were not immediately available. Hospital spokeswoman Zara Arboleda confirmed that seven patients had been admitted but would not provide condition reports.
The 33-passenger white chartered bus is owned by Top Line Charter of Monterey Park in the Los Angeles area and was carrying passengers visiting from China, officials said.
Calls to Top Line were not immediately returned Saturday.
Highway 41 was closed at the crash site, which is just south of Sugar Pine. The highway reopened at 9:34 p.m., the CHP said.
Initial reports by the CHP were that the bus went down an embankment after hitting the tree were incorrect. Scattered bags of snack chips and other debris were on the roadway, and the floor of the bus was littered with debris.
Attempts to reach the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles were unsuccessful Saturday evening.
|Chowchilla News Day
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