DOLAN SPRINGS, Ariz. (AP) – Flash flood waters swept a tour bus with 33 people aboard hundreds of yards down a wash in northwestern Arizona and the vehicle flipped on its side, but no one was injured, officials said.
The Las Vegas-bound bus was returning Sunday afternoon from a day-trip to the Grand Canyon’s west rim when the driver attempted to cross the wash on a rural road.
The high waters pushed the vehicle down the wash for an estimated 300 yards around 1:50 p.m. near Kingman, said Patrick Moore, chief of the Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District, which had firefighters at the scene. The crash happened as northern Arizona was hit with a second day of heavy rain.
The area where the bus accident occurred received 0.75 inches of rain in about an hour on Sunday afternoon, said Chris Stumpf, a National Weather Service forecaster in Las Vegas. A flash flood warning was in effect when the accident occurred, he said.
“It was a really strong storm dumping quite a bit of rain … and it caused flash flooding,” Stumpf said. “They were driving on a portion of the road where they shouldn’t have tried to drive across. They should not have been driving through there.”
Rhonda Ho, operations manager for Canyon Coach Lines, said the bus owned by the Las Vegas-based company was being driven by Joseph Razon, who saw a car right in front of him go through a section of the highway covered by some water.
“He thought, if a car can go through it, I can go through it,” Ho said.
“Then he got slammed by a rushing current of water that came out of nowhere,” she said. “He was driving in almost neck-deep water and trying to control the bus while it was floating.”
She said the driver managed to bring the bus against an embankment so it would stop and passengers could escape. People inside the bus were able to climb out of the driver’s side windows and walked to dry land.
“I’m glad the driver kept his cool and everybody got out safely. No one screamed on the bus and everyone kept their cool and that’s amazing,” Ho said.
She described Razon as a “very professional driver” with a spotless record. He has worked for the company since 2005.
Kingman is near the Arizona-Nevada stateline and about 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The bus passengers and driver returned on another bus to Las Vegas, where Ho was able to speak to the driver.
On Sunday evening, as a tow truck was preparing to take away the bus, it was lying on its side and had grass and other debris hanging from it. Two escape hatches on its roof were opened. Writing on the side of the bus said: “C.H. Destination” and “DBA: Canyon Coach Lines”
The passengers were no longer at the scene. The company had sent another bus to pick them up.
There were some swift-water rescues of stranded motorists Saturday night after a storm dropped nearly 2 inches of rain in about 90 minutes around Kingman, Stumpf said.
The flash flood warning around the accident scene has expired, he said, but there’s a chance for more heavy rain and another similar warning on Monday.
The crash happened as Northern Arizona was hit with a second day of heavy rain.
The Arizona Department of Transportation closed an 18-mile stretch of Interstate-40 Saturday night between Flagstaff and Kingman because of the flash flooding.
Associated Press writers Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix and Martin Griffith in Reno, Nev., contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- A preseason guide to avoid holiday weight gain
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier