Wyoming bus crash in Grand Teton National Park


By Staff and Mead Gruver, Associated Press / July 12, 2014

Three people injured when a tourist bus flipped on its side in Grand Teton National Park remain in the hospital.

Two people are being treated at the Eastern Idaho Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where they were listed in fair condition Saturday. Another person remains at St. John's Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming, in good condition.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash, which occurred on U.S. 89 north of Colter Bay Village on Jackson Lake.

Authorities believe the 33-foot-long bus went off the pavement and the driver overcorrected, causing the bus to flip on its side and slide, Grand Teton National Park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said. She didn't know how far it slid.

The wreck closed U.S. 89 for about five hours. The highway runs north-south through the park and connects Grand Teton with Yellowstone National Park to the north. It reopened at 9:20 p.m., Skaggs said.

This is the busiest time of year for Grand Teton and the heavily traveled highway, she said.

The bus was carrying 26 Asian tourists and a driver when the accident occurred about 4:10 p.m. Thursday. The bus was traveling north on U.S. 89 to Yellowstone National Park, according to the National Park Service.

All 27 bus occupants were taken to the hospital.

The accident remains under investigation.

In other national park news, the ever-changing thermal geology of Yellowstone National Park - adjacent to Grand Teton National Park - has created a hot spot that melted an asphalt road and closed access to popular geysers and other attractions at the height of tourist season, officials said Thursday.

As they examined possible fixes, park officials warned visitors not to hike into the affected area, where the danger of stepping through solid-looking soil into boiling-hot water was high.

"There are plenty of other great places to see thermal features in the park," Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said. "I wouldn't risk personal injury to see these during this temporary closure."

Naturally changing thermal features often damage Yellowstone's roads and boardwalks. Steaming potholes in asphalt roads and parking lots — marked off by traffic cones — are fairly common curiosities.

However, the damage to Firehole Lake Drive is unusually severe and could take several days to fix. The 3.3-mile loop six miles north of Old Faithful takes visitors past Great Fountain Geyser, White Dome Geyser and Firehole Lake.

Unusually warm weather for Yellowstone — with high temperatures in the mid-80s — has contributed to turning the road into a hot, sticky mess.

"We've got some ideas. We're going to try them. Our maintenance staff has really looked at the issue," Nash said.