Eleven people hospitalized in Garfield County bus crash

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(Credit: The Aspen Times/Michael McLaughlin)

DENVER — Eleven people were hospitalized Saturday night after the commuter bus on which they were riding rolled onto its side.

The bus was traveling west along Highway 82 between Aspen and Glenwood Springs about 7 p.m. when it came upon a slow-moving tractor in the right lane, the Colorado State Patrol reported. The bus driver attempted to swerve around the tractor, causing the bus to skid past on the left before colliding with a concrete barrier on the right.

The bus rolled onto its left side, CSP said.

The bus had 12 adult passengers on board, and all but one of them were transported to the hospital. Three suffered serious injuries, and eight had moderate injuries.

The male driver of the bus, a five-year veteran, had minor injuries and was cleared and released on scene. He was wearing a seat belt and was able to crawl from the vehicle and call for help, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority CEO Dan Blankenship said. The driver then helped passengers exit the bus through the front windshield.

The RFTA bus was going about 55 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone, the driver told Blankenship.

The tractor involved in the incident did have running and flashing lights but did not have a legally required slow-moving vehicle emblem, CSP reported. The bus driver also reportedly said some of the tractor’s lights may have been covered or otherwise obscured.

RFTA is the second-largest transit company in Colorado and is a largely rural service. RFTA drivers deal with challenging conditions due to travel over tricky mountain roads, Blankenship said.

The crash remains under investigation.