A woman is in serious condition at University Medical Center after she was injured in a collision with a tour bus on I-15. The accident happened in the northbound lanes of the freeway near Moapa.
Northbound traffic is open on I-15 as state troopers have cleared the accident. It was caused by a tour bus trying to make an illegal u-turn across the median.
The driver was making a u-turn because the group was headed to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon and ended up in Moapa before realizing they were going the wrong way. The mistake could turn out to be a fatal one for the other driver involved.
The tour bus started out from the Riviera at 5 a.m. Thursday morning and did not realize the mistake until they had been going north on I-15 for quite some time. That’s when the driver tried to turn around and head back south, but a red Camaro behind the bus was not able to stop in time.
The Camaro hit the bus at 70 or 80 miles an hour without braking, leaving the driver with multiple serious injuries. She was airlifted to UMC in an unknown condition.
The median was clearly marked with “no u-turn” and “for use by authorized vehicles only” signs.
A spokesman with the Nevada Highway Patrol says there is a very good reason why only authorized vehicles are allowed to use those u-turn areas.
“Our vehicles have emergency lights on them so that we can warn traffic that they’re coming to a stop before they make that u-turn. They can operate those emergency lights to warn traffic behind us and that we are slowing down,” said Trooper Jeremie Elliott.
The tour bus is owned by U.S. Asia Casino Tours and was carrying 41 passengers. Eight of them were injured but those were just bumps and bruises. The passengers were taken to the Moapa Community Center to rest after the crash. Two were taken by ambulance to local hospitals for minor medical issues.
Most of the passengers speak Mandarin Chinese, creating many language barriers for first responders. Nobody seems to know how they ended up heading north on the way to Mesquite and Utah. There is a possibility the bus driver was taking the long way to the Valley of Fire and make it to Hoover Dam around Lake Mead. Calls to the bus operator have gone unanswered.
The nearest place to turn around legally on I-15 northbound is about three miles from the accident scene. NHP says if the driver had driven those extra few miles, the accident could have been avoided.