SALT LAKE CITY — Passengers on a Greyhound bus that careened off a Utah highway on New Year’s Eve said in a desperate 911 call that the driver had passed out before the crash, according to a recording made public by authorities Thursday.
Police have narrowed the cause to the driver suffering a medical problem or fatigue before the crash, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Royce said.
A 13-year-old girl was killed and 12 other people were hurt in the when the bus drifted off the shoulder of Interstate 70 along a curve and crashed in a desert ravine about 300 miles (483 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City.
Greyhound spokeswoman Lanesha Gipson said the company is investigating and declined further comment.
A woman who called 911 screamed for help as dispatchers struggled to have her help them pinpoint the location of the wreckage. She did not know where she was when the bus went off the road en route to Las Vegas and it took about 15 minutes for the dispatchers to determine the bus’ location, according to the recording.
“My brain hurts really bad, I don’t want to die,” the woman said. “Can you please help us? I’m scared.”
She said she’d fallen asleep before the late-night accident and woke to find herself in the wreckage atop a steep ravine, according to the recording first reported by the Deseret News.
“Is this a dream? What the heck? What is going on?” she said. “I can’t wake up! I can’t wake up from this dream!”
Another passenger can be heard on the recording saying the driver passed out shortly before the crash, and the woman who called 911 relayed that information to the dispatcher.
Fourteen people were on board when the bus drifted off the highway’s shoulder.
Most passengers escaped by climbing out of a rear window, and some flagged down a truck driver for help.
The girl killed was identified as Summer Pinzon of Azusa, California.
The driver of the bus is still hospitalized and unconscious after suffering critical injuries, including skull fractures and other serious injuries, according to the Utah Highway Patrol. He has not been identified.
Investigators are reviewing video and data from the bus computer to determine speed and braking.