GARFIELD COUNTY, Utah (KSTU) — A man who owns a business and lives down the highway from where a tour bus crashed Friday morning described the aftermath of the horrific scene. Robert Driedonks said he was one of the first people to show up and help before first responders arrived.
The crash killed four and injured nearly every single one of the other 26 people on board. Utah Highway Patrol said the bus was bringing Chinese tourists to Bryce Canyon National Park. UHP said the driver veered off the road, overcorrected and rolled.
“It sounded like a war zone, big explosion,” Robert said, describing the sound he heard when the bus crashed on Highway 12 around 11:20 a.m. Friday.
He said he was standing on a deck and had a clear view of the accident.
“I saw the bus, and I went, ‘Oh no!’” he said.
Robert hopped in his truck and drove up the highway. He came upon the chaos of people and belongings scattered across the highway. The tour bus was upright, but completely smashed after having obviously rolled.
“I just went to the people who [were in] worst [condition]… of course, the people that were still laying to the side of the bus,” he said. “I think the bus rolled on them.”
The first three people Robert said he checked pulses on were dead. He said they were all women.
He found the husband of one of the women, but the man didn’t speak English.
Robert and the man couldn’t talk to each other, so he described how they just sat there, hugging each other and rocking as Robert consoled the husband.
“He kept holding his wife’s head and hugging her… and I was just trying to hold him,” Robert said. “He was doing a prayer, and I tried to hold him.”
At one point, Robert said he pulled someone out of the mangled bus. Later on, he wrapped a man in a blanket.
“I said, ‘Are you okay?’ And he said, ‘Yeah. That’s my father.’ And his father was next to him, and he was hurt pretty bad,” Robert said.
He explained that everyone began to go into shock. Some stayed silent, others let out cries and groans.
“I was scared and emotional,” Robert said, getting choked up. Tears welled up in his eyes. “I just kind of pray for the ones that are alive, and their families.”
No matter the language, the prayers are the same.
“I don’t care what country you’re from, we’re all human beings,” Robert said. “I don’t think nobody in life should go through something like that.”
The National Transportation Safety Board announced that they plan to arrive Saturday to begin an investigation into the crash. UHP is looking at what caused the driver to veer off the highway.