The driver in a fatal Dec. 30 Oregon bus crash was driving too fast at the time of the accident, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Thursday in an order banning the man from driving commercial vehicles in the United States.
Several people who survived when the Canadian Mi Joo Tour & Travel bus skidded off an icy Interstate 84 and down a 200-foot embankment said driver Haeng Kyu (James) Hwang had been asked several times to slow down.
Nine people were killed and 39 injured when the bus crashed on the last leg of a Western United States tour.
But it wasn’t until Thursday that the DOT said its investigation showed the bus was traveling too fast for the icy conditions.
“You were driving at speeds too fast for conditions and driving in a manner unsafe to existing road conditions,” the order addressed to Hwang says. “You exhibited a careless or reckless disregard for the safety of yourself, your passengers and the general public.”
Because he had worked more hours than were legal the week of the accident, Hwang was also banned from driving commercially in the United States until he can prove he is a safe driver. Hwang had been on duty 92 hours the week of the crash, which exceeds the 70-hour maximum federal regulations the United States and Canada allow for.
The driver of a second Mi Joo bus on that same tour, Choong Yurl Choi, was also ordered not to drive commercial vehicles in the United States. He also worked too many hours the week of the bus crash and was driving too fast, the order said.
Earlier this month, the DOT ordered Mi Joo Tour & Travel, based in Coquitlam, B.C. to stop operating in the United States saying it allowed its drivers to work too many hours a week and had no system for recording those hours. A lawyer for the company would not comment on whether the company’s initial tour itinerary allowed the drivers to work fewer than 70 hours in a span of seven days.
The DOT order says both drivers may be subject to civil and criminal penalties for violating federal regulations, but a department spokesman would not say whether there are plans to file charges against the drivers.