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U.S. officials declare Canadian bus drivers ‘imminent hazards’

A tour bus that careened off a mountain highway and plunged down a snow-covered slope, killing nine passengers and injuring at least 27 others is recovered in Pendleton, Oregon on December 31, 2012. The charter bus was carrying about 40 people through the Blue Mountains of northern Oregon en route from Las Vegas to Vancouver, British Columbia, when it crashed through a guard rail on Interstate 84 on Sunday morning, authorities said.

STEVE DIPAOLA/Reuters

Federal transportation authorities in the United States have declared two Canadian bus drivers employed by Mi Joo Tour & Travel to be "imminent hazards" to public safety and prohibited both men from driving in the United States.

Mi Joo, based in Coquitlam, B.C., was the operator of a bus that crashed in Oregon on Dec. 30, killing nine people and injuring more than 30 others.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had previously issued an order barring Mi Joo from operating in the U.S., citing infractions of federal transportation regulations relating to the amount of time drivers can be on the road.

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In a statement Thursday, the FMCSA (part of the U.S. Department of Transportation) said its continuing investigation has established that Haeng Kyu Hwang, the driver of the bus that crashed, was found to have been driving "well beyond the 70-hour maximum hours of services within a seven-day period" permitted by federal regulations.

Another driver, Choong Yurl Choi, who was operating a second Mi Joo bus as part of the same tour, was also found to have been driving for longer than the 70-hour limit, the FMCSA said.

The FMCSA said its investigation also determined that both drivers had engaged in unsafe driving behaviour, "including operating a commercial passenger vehicle at speeds too fast for existing road conditions."

Earlier this month, a lawyer representing the company has said black ice was to blame for the crash.

Surviving passengers have filed lawsuits against Mi Joo Tour in both Canada and the United States.

B. C.'s ministry of transportation is also investigating the company.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Wendy Stueck has covered technology and business and now reports on British Columbia issues including natural resources, aboriginal issues and urban affairs. More

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