January 10, 2013 in City

Lawyer defends tour bus driver

Attorney says he rested before crash
Associated Press

The driver of a Canadian travel company bus that crashed and killed 9 passengers in Oregon last month had slept for more than seven hours the night prior to the accident, a company attorney said Wednesday.

Attorney Mark Scheer’s comments came a day after the U.S. Department of Transportation revoked Vancouver, B.C.-based Mi Joo Tour & Travel’s authority to provide passenger service in the United States after determining a driver was not properly rested when his bus crashed.

A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration investigation found that driver Haeng Kyu Hwang had been on duty for 92 hours in the eight-day stretch before the tragedy, exceeding the 70-hour federal limit.

“I can specifically say that he had seven and a half hours of sleep when they left the morning of the accident,” Scheer said.

Scheer didn’t address the federal report on Wednesday beyond saying the company had “concerns about the accuracy” of it. The attorney added that black ice was a “significant” factor in the bus losing. Scheer said the driver was seriously injured in the crash, but has been cooperating with investigators. The driver is back in Vancouver.

“Mr. Hwang is a licensed driver. Mr. Hwang had previously worked as a school bus driver and truck driver with no accidents,” Scheer said. “He was in good health and he doesn’t use alcohol or tobacco.”

The Oregon State Police and National Transportation Safety Board have not said what caused the Dec. 30 crash on Interstate 84 east of Pendleton.

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