November 30, 2013 in Region

A year after fatal Interstate 84 bus crash, charges yet to be filed

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Emergency personnel respond to where a tour bus careened through a guardrail along an icy Oregon highway and fell several hundred feet down a steep embankment on Dec. 30.
(Full-size photo)

PORTLAND – An Eastern Oregon prosecutor has yet to decide to file charges nearly a year after a fatal Interstate 84 bus crash.

Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus said the case is “very complex” and he has not convened a grand jury.

“I don’t know if I would say we’re close (to a decision),” Primus said. “We’re in the process of evaluating as well as we’ve been working with other federal agencies and collaborating with them in trying to potentially make a joint decision on how to move forward.”

Nine people died and almost 40 were injured Dec. 30 when a bus carrying tourists on an icy I-84 smashed through a guardrail east of Pendleton and rolled down a hill.

In January, the U.S. government banned Mi Joo Tour & Travel and driver Haeng Kyu “James” Hwang – both based in Vancouver, B.C. – from operating commercial vehicles on American roads. Witnesses said the bus was traveling too fast for the wintry conditions, according to an order issued by the Transportation Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The agency also said Hwang had worked 92 hours in an eight-day stretch, surpassing the federal limit of 70.

Attorneys for Mi Joo Tour & Travel have said black ice – not driver fatigue or excessive speed – caused the crash.

Primus said his focus is on the actions of the driver, not the tour company. He said he has not been in contact with Canadian authorities.

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