PORTLAND — A lawsuit filed by a survivor and the estates of three people who died in an Eastern Oregon tour bus crash says the Oregon Department of Transportation didn’t do enough to make an icy stretch of Interstate 84 safe, including putting up barriers strong enough to keep the bus on the road.
Nine people died and 38 were injured in December when the bus slid on ice east of Pendleton, crashed through a guardrail and rolled down a steep hill.
It’s the first time the state agency has been named as a defendant in litigation that followed the crash, spokesman Patrick Cooney said. The agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation, he said.
The stretch of Interstate 84 crosses the flanks of the Blue Mountains.
The lawsuit says the state agency didn’t equip it with barriers strong enough to prevent the bus from leaving the roadway, didn’t plow and sand it adequately, failed to warn motorists of unsafe conditions, and failed to require commercial vehicles to take an alternate route.
The three who died were Oun Hong Jung, 67, and Chun Ho Bahn and Joon Wha Kim, both 63.
The survivor is Youn Banh, 66, Chun Ho Bahn’s husband.
The suit seeks at least $10 million in punitive damages and for injuries and wrongful death, The Oregonian reported.
The crash occurred hours after the bus departed from an overnight stay in the Boise, Idaho, area on the final day of a Western tour.
Operators of the bus, Mi Joo Tour and Travel, Ltd. of Vancouver, British Columbia, are also named as defendants, as well as the bus driver, Haeng-Kyu Hwang.
The suit claims Mi Joo Travel was negligent for numerous reasons, including not equipping the bus with tire chains; allowing the driver to operate the bus an excessive number of hours without rest; and speeding. Several passengers have sued the company, which denies wrongdoing.
Hwang has been barred from operating a commercial vehicle in the United States.