The confirmed number of fatalities in a Sunday morning bus crash near Pendleton, Oregon has risen from five to nine victims, according to the Oregon State Police (OSP).
As reported, preliminary information indicates that prior to 10:30 a.m., a passenger bus lost control on the snow and ice covered westbound lanes of Interstate 84 near milepost 227. The bus crashed through a guardrail and when down an embankment an estimated couple hundred feet before coming to a rest. Nevertheless, the OSP said that investigators are still on scene conducting the initial at-scene investigation, and the cause of the crash is not known.
As of this writing, all deceased victims and injured persons have been removed from the scene, said the Oregon State Police, adding that there is no confirmation on the total number of bus occupants. The OSP had previously estimated there were 40 passengers aboard the bus.
Personnel trained for rope rescues were on scene helping retrieve people from the crash scene back to the highway.
The bus reportedly was enroute on a return trip from Las Vegas, Nevada to Vancouver, British Columbia.
The name of the charter bus company is initially being reported as Mi Joo Tour & Travel from Vancouver, British Columbia, according to the Oregon State Police.
Oregon State Police are continuing to try and confirm the total number of passengers and number of injured persons transported to area hospital or secondary locations due to severity of injuries.
St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton confirmed 26 patients were brought to their hospital with a range of injuries. Five of those patients were transported by air to secondary hospital locations due to the severity of their injuries.
The bus driver survived the crash, but investigators have not be able to speak to this person because of severity of injuries and medical care, according to the Oregon State Police.
Previously, it was reported that approximately twenty people were transported to an area hospital with additional injured persons being prepared for transport, according to first responders.
Three fixed wing medical aircraft have been standing by at Pendleton-area airport to transport any injured to out-of-area hospitals.
Emergency responders from multiple agencies in the Umatilla and Union county areas are on scene.
This is the second fatal crash in northeast Oregon this morning. Area roads are slick because of snow and ice.