Tour bus crash injures at least 26

CLEARVILLE – State police at Bedford said speed was a factor in the Sunday afternoon tour bus crash along Route 220 in Bedford that injured more than two dozen passengers on their way to a Maryland casino.

Police said Freedom Excursions’ tour-bus driver Terrence Harold Shultz, 65, of Altoona, was traveling too fast for road conditions when he lost control of the bus about 2:20 p.m. and struck an embankment near Black Walnut Farm Road in Cumberland Valley Township.

According to police, the bus was carrying 33 passengers bound for Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Flintstone, Md., near Cumberland. An online company schedule said the bus left Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Altoona at 1 p.m.

Freedom Excursions owners Bill and Deborah Scully did not return calls for comment.

More than two dozen ambulances from four counties responded to the scene, transporting 11 people to UPMC Bedford Memorial and 15 people, including Shultz, to Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, officials said.

Seven passengers who were uninjured or declined medical treatment were transported to the Bedford County Courthouse until other transportation could be arranged.

Allen Rhine of Hollidaysburg said his father-in-law, Sam Boston, of Greenwood was among the injured passengers transported to Western Maryland.

“[We saw the crash] on Facebook and started making phone calls,” he said, adding that Boston, who is in his 70s, frequently used Freedom Excursions for trips to the casino and had traveled without incident in the past.

Rhine said hospital officials told him Boston is in the worst shape of all the injured passengers. Hospital officials said Boston is in stable condition.

“He is in a lot of pain. … He has a broken shoulder, abrasions on his face and a bleed on the brain,” Rhine said.

Kathy Rogers, director of community relations and marketing for Western Maryland, said at least three patients, including Boston, suffered moderate injuries and were likely to remain in the hospital overnight.

UPMC spokeswoman Susan Manko said 10 of the 11 patients they received accepted treatment, and the hospital was able to release all of them by Sunday evening.

The patients ranged in age from 49 to 70 years old, Manko said, but she could not provide information on the nature of their injuries or how many of them are from the Altoona area.

A male patient earlier identified as being in serious condition also was released.

“He wasn’t that bad,” she said. “We thought it was more serious than it was.”

Bedford County Emergency Management Director Dave Cubbison said the region received about 3 inches of snow Sunday, with slick road conditions causing multiple accidents in the area – including two minor fender-benders involving emergency medical units responding to the bus crash. No injuries were reported, he said.

Police closed the southbound lane of Route 220 for miles in both directions for approximately four hours so medical personnel could transport patients and officials could investigate the scene and tow the bus.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.