WINTER PARK, Colo. — A car-sized boulder fell from an embankment and smashed into a tour bus on a steep mountain pass in the Colorado Rockies today, killing six people and injuring 16 others, county officials said.
A Gray Lines spokesman said the passengers were from all over the United States and from overseas as well.
"The right side of the bus is completely gone, just like it was cut out by a can opener," said a spokesman for the Grand County Sheriff's Department.
The boulder rolled down the mountain and slammed into the Gray Line tour bus at 11:50 a.m. PDT. The bus, carrying 28 tourists, had left Denver at 8:30 a.m. and was due back at 6:30 p.m.
Grand County officials said 6 people were killed, 16 were hurt and 6 escaped injury in the accident, which occurred on 11,307-foot-high Berthoud Pass, 10 miles east of Winter Park and 57 miles west of Denver.
'Circle Tour' Trip
John Schmidt, dispatcher for Gray Lines bus tours in Denver, said the bus had left Denver earlier in the day for the "Circle Tour," a 250-mile trip that takes passengers over Berthoud Pass and through Rocky Mountain National Park.
The bus was traveling downhill on U.S. 40 and was about a quarter of a mile from the last switchback on the mountain pass when the rock fell from a steep embankment of loose dirt and rocks above, said sheriff's Deputy Mark Thornton.
"A witness said . . . the rock was as big or bigger than his car," Thornton said.
At least four of the most seriously injured passengers, two in critical condition, were flown to Denver General Hospital and to St. Anthony Hospital in Denver, authorities said. The other injured people were treated at Seven Mile Clinic in Winter Park and at Timberline Clinic in Granby.
Schmidt, the Gray Line dispatcher, said he was sending two vans and a Wagoneer to pick up the six passengers who were not injured.