2 dead, 21 injured in bus rollover in Minnesota


AUSTIN, Minn. — Two people are dead and 21 injured in a
rollover accident of a tour bus Wednesday near Austin, Minn., according to the
Minnesota State Patrol.

The accident took place about 2 miles from Austin.

“It’s truly tragic because every person on the bus was
either injured or killed,” said Andy Skoogman, a spokesman for the
Department of Public Safety, who added that the group from a casino just south
of the Minnesota-Iowa border.

The driver of the bus was taken to Saint Marys Hospital in
Rochester, Minn. Others were taken to hospitals in Austin and Albert Lea, Minn.

KAAL-TV reported that eyewitnesses, who spoke to the bus
driver, said the bus was going eastbound when it crossed into the westbound
lanes and went into a ditch, where it rolled over.

According to Skoogman, the bus was heading east on
Interstate 90 near Austin when it crossed the media into the westbound lanes.
It ended up in a ditch where it flipped over, landing with the door side down.

There was no construction going on in the area of the accident
and weather was not a factor, Skoogman said, adding that several cars in the
westbound lanes got out of the way of the bus.

The bus company’s owner, Dalmar Strain, said the bus was
headed back from the Diamond Jo Casino in Northwood, Iowa.

“I’m just beside myself,” said Strain, on his way
to the scene of the accident. “I don’t know what happened.”

Strain said he routed the trip for the veteran driver and
was surprised to hear the bus was on Interstate 90. “Why he came across
this way, I have no idea.”

Strain said the trip was almost canceled but that eight or
nine people called in at the last minute saying they wanted to go.

He said the driver was in his 50s and had worked for the
company when it was focused on school bus trips. He also has experience driving
semitrailer trucks and working with heavy machinery.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration, Strain Tours has reported no crashes in the past 24 months. The
company has four buses and six drivers, according to agency records.

Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.