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Bus driver killed in collision with utility truck

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A Utah tour bus driver was impaled by a drilling device when his vehicle crashed into a utility truck on Interstate 80, authorities said Tuesday.

Pita Asiata, 53, of Bountiful died after a large auger being carried by the truck went through the windshield of the bus, the Utah Highway Patrol said.

Three of the 50 bus passengers were critically injured, Others on the bus and in the utility truck reported minor injuries.

A pregnant woman reported feeling labor pains and contractions after the crash, Highway Patrol Cpl. Todd Johnson said.

She was checked by doctors as a precaution, but Johnson did not have further details on her condition. The woman was not one of the critically injured passengers, he said.

The crash occurred about 6 p.m. on the interstate about 34 miles from the Nevada state line.

Both vehicles were traveling east when the truck slowed to enter a median turnaround and it was struck by the bus. An investigation was continuing

The tour bus had departed from Wendover, Nev., and was headed to Salt Lake City, said Tim Brown, a spokesman for Le Bus transportation company, which operates the tour bus.

Asiata became a driver for the company in February 2009 and since then had only one minor accident when his bus struck a parked car, Brown said.

“Obviously, our first concern is for the family of our bus driver, for all who were injured and their families, and for each of the other passengers on our bus,” the company said in a statement.

The company said it was investigating the accident.

Johnson said the highway was closed in both directions for several hours after the crash but all lanes were open Tuesday.

The utility truck was being used by a construction crew working in the area, troopers said.

The truck had hazard lights on and the auger had orange markings, said Brady Warnock, a member of the construction crew who was driving a vehicle in front of the truck.

Warnock told The Deseret News that there was still daylight at the time of the crash.

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