News

Maple Ridge man killed in Oregon bus crash

A tour bus in northern Oregon skidded on ice, crashed through a guardrail and tumbled down an embankment on Dec.30, killing nine people including Seokmin Moon, 55 from Maple Ridge. His wife Choonja Moon is being treated in Seattle. - Oregon State Police
A tour bus in northern Oregon skidded on ice, crashed through a guardrail and tumbled down an embankment on Dec.30, killing nine people including Seokmin Moon, 55 from Maple Ridge. His wife Choonja Moon is being treated in Seattle.
— image credit: Oregon State Police

A man from Maple Ridge has been identified as one of the people killed last week in a tour bus crash in Oregon.

Seokmin Moon, 55, was one of nine people who died Dec. 30 after the bus crashed through guard rail on Interstate 84 and plunged 200 feet into a deep ravine at Deadman Pass.

His wife Choonja Moon, 53, is among 38 survivors and is being treated at the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Oregon police expect an ongoing investigation of the crash will take several weeks to complete. The driver of the bus was among the injured.

"The Oregon State Police and State Medical Examiner's Office thanks the Korean Consulate, Consulate of Canada and victims' families for their continued help during the difficult process of identifying the victims and notifying next of kin," said Lieutenant Gregg Hastings.

"The consulates have also been very helpful in coordinating property identification and release to survivors and families of the deceased victims."

Owned by Vancouver-based Mi Joo Tour and Travel, the bus was returning to B.C. from Las Vegas when it crashed east of Pendleton, Oregon.

In a recorded message, Mi Joo Travels said it is working with authorities investigating the accident and is taking steps to ease the suffering of those affected.

Police have released the names of eight of the nine victims of the fatal crash. The name of the ninth victim is still withheld until police contact next of kin.

The others include:

• Dale William Osborn, 57 from Spanaway, Washington;

• Oun Hong Jung, 67 and his wife Joong Wha Kim, 63 from Korea;

• Yongho Lee, 75 from Lynwood, Washington;

• Youmin Kim, 11, from South Korea, who was studying english in B.C.;

• Chun Ho Bahn, 63, from Bothell, Washington;

• Ae Ja Kim, 61, from Gangwon Province, Korea.

Lawsuit already filed

A U.S. law firm has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Korean exchange students who were injured in the Oregon crash.

The students - Chae Jong-Hyun and An Seong-Jun - spent eight hours in hospital following the crash and continued to be treated in a hotel for three days before they were transported back home to Tacoma.

"I understand it will take several months for doctors to fully assess their injuries," said attorney Charles Herrmann of the Herrmann Scholbe Law Firm, which has filed a suit on their behalf.

The complaint alleges driver fatigue, failure to heed warnings, and speed too fast for conditions against tour bus owner Mi Joo Tour and Travel Ltd.

The lawsuit alleges the driver of the tour bus, who also doubled as a tour guide, worked between 90 to 100 hours without relief over the first eight days of a package tour, violating U.S. regulations governing the maximum allowable time for a person to remain on duty and drive. On two days immediately preceding the accident, the driver worked over 27.5 hours while driving over 1,200 miles and conducting a tour of the Grand Canyon.

"It is inescapable - anyone would be extremely fatigued after working at that pace before the accident,"  Herrmann added.

While the bus did not have seat belts, neither of the boys was ejected following the crash.

Chae was knocked unconscious while An fainted.

When they recovered consciousness, they awoke to a nightmarish scene of dead and wounded passengers.

According to the lawsuit, people were screaming and crying all around them. Some were pinned in the bus, while others lay crying and yelling for help both inside the bus and strewn on the snow outside.

Hermann said the boys did what they could to assist others and when help arrived they eventually made their way up to the highway where they were taken by ambulance to St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton, Oregon.

Herrmann and his law firm have gained an international reputation for successfully representing hundreds of victims in accident disaster cases over the past 30 years.

His role in cracking the 1983 shoot down of Korean Air flight KAL 007 by a Soviet Mig over Sakhalin Island was portrayed in the HBO movie Tailspin and featured in the book Death of 007.

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