ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One person remained in critical condition and at least 11 more were still hospitalized Monday after a passenger bus traveling from Denver to El Paso was involved in a multi-vehicle wreck Sunday morning north of Bernalillo.
Three people were killed and two dozen injured in a series of related crashes that took place after a car rear-ended a pickup truck around 2 a.m. on Interstate 25. The University of New Mexico Hospital said three patients’ conditions have been upgraded from critical to serious or satisfactory and a total of 12 passengers were still hospitalized there. Several more patients had been released.
Some of the 32 passengers’ families were frantically trying to get information Sunday morning, which was made more difficult by the fact that many of the passengers’ cell phones were lost in the chaos of the crash, Jerry Rosenbaum, president of El Paso – Los Angeles Limousine Express Inc., said in an interview Monday afternoon.
Law enforcement officials have not said whether any of those killed had been on the bus.
Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Keith Elder said Monday that authorities were still in the process of notifying the families of those who were killed. Their names will be released after that happens. On Sunday, he confirmed that one of the people killed was the driver of the passenger car, who had been ejected from the vehicle.
The southbound El Paso – Los Angeles Limousine Express Inc. bus was scheduled to make a stop in Albuquerque around 1:45 a.m. Instead, the bus came upon the car-pickup crash and “the ejected driver.” The bus driver lost control in an attempt to avoid the vehicle, and the bus crashed onto its side and came to a stop in the northbound traffic lanes. There it was sideswiped by a semi-truck, which also took evasive action and ended up off the roadway.
Rosenbaum said 32 passengers and two drivers were aboard the bus.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the passengers and the family members for everything they’ve been going through,” Rosenbaum said.
Employees spent Sunday morning fielding calls from family members who were looking for information on bus passengers. In the chaos of the wreck, Rosenbaum said, many passengers lost their cellphones, leaving them unable to reach loved ones.
“Without their phones, some of them didn’t even know the phone numbers of the people that they wanted to call,” he said.
And when relatives reached out to the bus company, employees were only able to confirm whether a person was or was not riding on that particular bus. The company did not have access to information showing where a passenger wound up after the crash.
Rosenbaum said that passengers who were not injured had the option to catch a later bus to El Paso, and some were picked up by family members. The Red Cross also helped coordinate care and services for people involved in the crash.