SALT LAKE CITY — A bus carrying Chinese-speaking tourists crashed on the way to a national park in Utah, killing four people and critically injuring as many as 15 others, authorities said Friday.
It appears the driver might have swerved on a two-lane highway leading to Bryce Canyon National Park and then tried to overcorrect, sending the tour bus rolling into a guardrail, Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins said.
The driver survived and was talking with investigators, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street said. The driver didn’t appear to be intoxicated, but authorities were still investigating, he said.
The crash happened near a highway rest stop about 7 miles (11 kilometers) from the entrance to the park known for its narrow red rock spires. There was some wind, but it was not strong enough to cause problems, Street said.
Photos show the top of a white bus smashed in, and one side peeling away as the vehicle came to rest mostly off the side of the road against a sign for restrooms.
The bus carried 31 people, including the driver, and 12 to 15 of them suffered critical injuries. An additional 10 had minor to serious injuries, the Utah Highway Patrol tweeted.
The National Transportation Safety Board was sending a team to investigate.
Injured victims were sent to three hospitals. Intermountain Garfield Memorial Hospital said it received 17 patients, including three in critical condition and 11 in serious condition.
Patients also were taken to Cedar City and St. George hospitals.
Chinese tourists are the fastest-growing group of tourists to visit Utah, and more than half travel on tour buses, said Vicki Varela, managing director of Utah Office of Tourism.
The Chinese Embassy tweeted that it was saddened to hear about the crash and that it was sending staff to help the victims.
Bryce Canyon, about 300 miles (480 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City, draws more than 2 million visitors a year.