PENDLETON, Ore. – At least nine people died after a passenger bus slid off the ice on Interstate 84 and crashed hundreds of feet down an embankment Sunday morning, police said.
26 people were taken to St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton after the crash, and five of those people were rushed to other hospitals for treatment.
"We were able to bring in the amount of physicians and nurses needed to handle the situation even though we are a small, 25-bed critical access hospital," said Larry Blanc with St. Anthony.
State Police spokesman Lt. Gregg Hastings said the bus slid off the westbound lanes east of Pendleton at around 10:30 a.m.
"That hill, Emigrant Hill, rises up over 4,000 feet where this accident took place in a very short amount of miles," said Blanc.
The bus crashed through a guardrail and slid several hundred feet down an embankment before coming to a stop.
"Most of the patients had been ejected from the bus on the way down," said Lt. Steve Brost with the Pendleton Fire Department. "I've been a firefighter for 20 years and this is the first time I've seen anything like this."
The accident happened on the west end of the Blue Mountains, and west of an area called "Deadman Pass," where stretches of the highway tend to be icy in winter months, Hastings said. It happened near milepost 227.
Rescuers used ropes to pull people from the crash scene back to the highway.
Hastings said the bus is owned by Mi Joo Tour & Travel of Vancouver, B.C.
The bus was to Vancouver, B.C. from Las Vegas. The total number of passengers is still unclear.
Four survivors are at OHSU in Portland, a spokesperson said.
The bus driver survived the crash, Hastings said. Investigators are not able to speak with him due to the severity of his injuries.
The names of the victims will be released after thir families are notified, said Hastings. It's unclear how long that could take because the victims are believed to be from another country.
The crash was the second of two deadly crashes along I-84 Sunday.
69-year-old Freeman Glenn Thomason of Post Falls, Idaho died in a rollover crash east of Stanfield, Ore. on I-84, Hastings said. It happened just before 7 a.m.
The driver, 26-year-old Timothy Hancock, was taken to a hospital. Hastings said he’s expected to survive.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.