SUGAR PINE – A southbound shuttle bus transporting 16 passengers from Yosemite National Park veered off the roadway and over the embankment just north of the Sugar Pine turnoff on Highway 41.
The driver, Changefeng Liu, of Freemont, was traveling at speeds too fast for the mountain road, and lost control as he came around a tight corner, says CHP on the scene.
After hitting the bank on the west side of the road, the bus came back into the roadway, where the driver over-corrected and hit the bank again.
This time, the bus crossed both lanes of traffic and left the roadway on the east side of the road, where it was stopped from plunging down the embankment by a small tree.
The accident happened shortly after 6 p.m. on Saturday, Apr. 13, about a mile north of the Road 630 turnoff just north of Oakhurst.
Madera County Fire Station #12, Cedar Valley Station #18, and Engine #4254 responded to the scene along with three Sierra Ambulance units, two CHP and an air ambulance.
Emergency personnel tended to the passengers, who sat along the curb at the edge of the highway as they were evaluated and treated for minor to moderate injuries.
Arrangements were made to provide another bus to take them to their hotel in Fresno, which was their intended destination at the time of the accident. Four were transported by ambulance to area hospitals.
Most of the occupants were tourists from China, and there was a bit of a language barrier for some. Another challenge for emergency personnel on scene was the lack of cell phone service in the area.
The information on the shuttle bus indicated that it was owned by Seven Happiness Tour & Charter Inc. of Burlingame, Ca.
The highway was closed in both directions at times, or alternating single lanes, for nearly four hours as passengers were treated and transported, and the bus was cleared from the roadway.
An inspection was done on the vehicle to see if there were any mechanical issues that contributed to the wreck. The accident is still under investigation, and alcohol was not a factor.