Girl, 11, among dead as police ID bus victims

Steven DuBois / The Associated Press /

PORTLAND — Authorities say an 11-year-old girl from South Korea was among the nine people killed in a bus crash on Interstate 84 in Eastern Oregon.

Oregon State Police officials identified the girl Wednesday as Youmin Kim, who was visiting relatives in British Columbia before the nine-day bus tour of the western United States.

Police also released the names of three other victims of the Sunday crash, including a woman from Washington state and a Korean couple who had been staying with relatives in Washington.

They were identified as 75-year-old Yongho Lee of Lynnwood, Wash., 67-year-old Oun Hong Jung of South Korea and his 63-year-old wife, Joong Wha Kim.

The crash occurred as the bus was returning to Vancouver, British Columbia, on the final leg of the vacation tour. The crash was Oregon’s deadliest since 1971.

The trip was organized by a British Columbia travel agency that has yet to comment.

Six of the people who were killed remain unidentified. Authorities previously said Dale Osborn, 57, of Spanaway, Wash., died in the crash.

Lt. Gregg Hastings of the Oregon State Police said the identification process has been slowed by factors such as the availability of legal identification, fingerprint and medical records.

Vice Consul Chul Ho Choi, who traveled to Pendleton from Seattle to help authorities with translations and to notify relatives, said five of the victims were South Korean citizens.

An additional 38 people were injured, including bus driver Haeng Kyu Hwang, 54, of Vancouver, B.C. At least 10 remained hospitalized Wednesday afternoon at facilities stretching from Boise, Idaho, to Portland. State troopers have been going to hospitals with photographs of unclaimed property, including purses and luggage, in an effort to return items found at the scene.

The cause of the crash has yet to be released, and police have said it could take a month or more to determine whether the driver was at fault. The investigative team includes police and three National Transportation Safety Board inspectors.

The crash occurred near a spot on the interstate called Deadman Pass, at the top of a steep, seven-mile descent from the Blue Mountains. There were icy spots, but nothing unusual for this time of year.

“The crash happened on a pretty straight stretch before they head down the hill,” said Tom Strandberg, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Despite its foreboding name — coined in pioneer times long before the automobile — the pass had not been deadly in the 21st century. In the past 10 years, there had been 59 accidents, but no deaths, on that stretch of highway, Strandberg said.

Transportation Department records show Sunday’s crash to be the state’s deadliest since a two-car collision in Portland killed nine in October 1971.

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