Bus driver who ignored Arizona flood may be charged
Charges are pending against a tour bus driver whose bus was swept away while he tried to cross a wash that became flooded with as much as 9-feet of water.Photo: Video by ktnv.com
Kingman, AZ (KTNV) -- Charges are pending against a tour bus driver whose bus was swept away while he tried to cross a wash that became flooded with as much as 9-feet of water.
The incident happened Sunday afternoon just north of Kingman, Arizona.
The tour bus, toppled on its side and surrounded by rushing flood waters, has authorities investigating why the driver kept driving during the flash flood watch.
He could face charges under what's known as Arizona's "Stupid Motorist Law," which makes drivers pay for emergency response when they cross flooded areas and get into trouble.
Returning from the Grand Canyon Skywalk area, the bus drove through a flooded wash at milepost 16 on Pierce Ferry Road. With 33 passengers on board, it was t-boned by mud-packed flood water.
According to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office, the bus was swept about four-tenths of a mile down the wash before it tipped over and landed on a 45-degree angle. Everyone on board escaped through emergency exits and no one was hurt.
The investigation continues and charges may be pending against driver Joseph Razon, though the company said he did everything right.
The bus is operated by Chinese Host Incorporated doing business as Canyon Coach Lines.
Canyon Coach Lines is based here in Las Vegas and headquartered in West Hacienda. No one from the company would go on camera and they wouldn't let Action News see the bus. On the phone, they called the situation unfortunate, but authorities said it could and should have been avoided.
Take a look at the discrepancies: A company spokesperson told Action News the day was sunny, no rain, no warning of flash flood. But the Northern Arizona Fire Department said there had been rain in the area, and the National Weather Service confirmed a flash flood watch was in effect at the time of the crash.
The company said other cars were already driving through the area, so Razon thought if small cars could make it, then he could too. Canyon Coach said his only error may have been crossing the road a little too slowly to avoid rocks and debris, trying not to damage the 3-month-old, $600,000 vehicle.
Canyon Coach Lines credits Razon with tipping the bus on purpose so passengers could get out safely on dry land.
Authorities said he had no business being in that wash.
Though the company's promotional video said, "We are among the safest operators by DOT standards," Contact 13 learned this is the third crash for Canyon Coach in the last three months. The previous two came just four days apart in May; one in Mojave County, Arizona and one injury crash here in Las Vegas.
Federal records also show four speeding violations in Arizona so far this year. In Nevada, they've been cited for serious violations, including falsely reporting a driver's record of duty. And they've had violations for vehicle maintenance as recently as last month.
No citations have been issued yet for Sunday's crash.
While the Mohave County Sheriff's Office continues its investigation, Canyon Coach Lines will put the driver through routine drug and alcohol tests. They maintain that he's always been exemplary, and said he did a phenomenal job keeping everyone safe.