PORTLAND— Authorities on Wednesday released the names of a South Korean couple who were among nine people killed in a tour bus crash on Interstate 84 in eastern Oregon.
Oun Hong Jung, 67, and his wife, Joong Wha Kim, 63, had been staying with relatives in Bothell, Wash., before boarding the bus, said state police Lt. Gregg Hastings.
The bus 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 tour of the western U.S.
The crash was Oregon’s deadliest since 1971.
The trip was organized by a British Columbia travel agency that has yet to comment.
Six of the people who were killed remain unidentified. Authorities previously said Dale Osborn, 57, of Spanaway, Wash., died in the crash.
Hastings said the identification process has been slowed by factors such as the availability of legal identification, fingerprint and medical records.
Vice Consul Chul Ho Choi, who came to Pendleton, Ore., from Seattle to help authorities with translations and to notify relatives, said five of the victims were South Korean citizens.
Another 38 people were injured, including driver Haeng Kyu Hwang, 54, of Vancouver, B.C. At least 10 remained hospitalized Wednesday afternoon at facilities stretching from Boise, Idaho, to Portland. State troopers have been going to hospitals with photographs of unclaimed property, including purses and luggage, in an effort to return items found at the scene.
The cause of the crash has yet to be released, and police have said it could take a month or more to determine whether the driver was at fault. The investigative team includes police and three National Transportation Safety Board inspectors.
The crash occurred near a spot on the interstate called Deadman Pass, at the top of a steep, seven-mile descent from the Blue Mountains. There were icy spots, but nothing unusual for this time of year.
“The crash happened on a pretty straight stretch before they head down the hill,” said Tom Strandberg, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation.
The posted speed limit is 55 miles per hour for trucks and buses and 65 miles per hour for cars. Drivers, however, are required to go slower in treacherous conditions. Despite its foreboding name — coined in pioneer times long before the automobile — the pass had not been deadly in the 21st century. In the past 10 years, there had been 59 accidents, but no deaths, on that stretch of highway, Strandberg said.Transportation Department records show Sunday’s crash to be the state’s deadliest since a two-car collision in Portland killed nine in October 1971. Six years before that, a Greyhound bus lost control on an icy section of Interstate 5 in southwest Oregon. The Christmas Eve crash killed 14 people.