By Steven DuBois Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. — The state medical examiner’s office concluded the slow process of identifying the dead from a charter bus crash in rural eastern Oregon that killed nine passengers.
Chun Ho Bahn, 63, of Bothell, and Ae Ja Kim, 61, of Gungwon Province, South Korea, were identified Thursday by Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings. The women were both married and their husbands remained hospitalized.
The bus, a 1998 Prevost motor coach, plunged through a guardrail and 200 feet down an embankment Sunday while returning to Vancouver, British Columbia, on the final leg of a nine-day vacation tour that included a stay in Las Vegas.
Authorities earlier identified five victims: Yongho Lee, 75, and Dale Osborn, 57, of Washington state and three residents of South Korea: Youmin Kim, 11, Oun Hong Jung, 67, and Joong Wha Kim, 63.
Hastings said the names of the final two victims would be released following family approval.
Investigators have yet to say what caused Oregon’s deadliest crash since 1971. The bus was traveling westbound in the passing lane of Interstate 84 when it hit a concrete barrier the divides the highway, veered across both westbound lanes and plowed through the guardrail. Some passengers were ejected.
The crash happened during an overcast morning on a flat and straight stretch of the highway, just before an infamous downgrade known as Cabbage Hill.
A truck had applied sand to the icy road a few hours before the crash and was behind the bus making another run when tragedy struck.
The posted speed limit is 65 mph for cars and 55 mph for trucks and buses. Police have not said how fast the bus was traveling or if driver fatigue was an issue.
“We’re not providing any updates on the investigation,” Hastings said.
The driver, Haeng Kyu Hwang, 54, of Vancouver, B.C., was injured along with 37 passengers. He has been released from a hospital in Pendleton, just west of the crash site. Besides driving buses, he is a deacon at Kwanglim Methodist Church in Surrey, B.C.
The church voice mail was disabled Thursday. A youth pastor, Sonny Kang, told CTV News in Canada earlier this week that the congregation was in “shock and disbelief.”