Six of the seven people killed while riding the Chicago-bound Greyhound bus Tuesday morning had not been identified by early Wednesday morning despite cross-checks of three passenger lists, careful examination of belongings strewn about the accident scene and interviews with crash survivors.
None of the six - including a 6-year-old girl - had any identification on their bodies, said Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Gary Whit-ney.Besides the child, three white women, a white man and a black man who died in the accident remain unidentified, Whitney said.
By midday Wednesday, investigators had tentatively identified two of the dead women, Whitney said. Anxious relatives faxed a picture of one woman that appears to match the body. Another family gave a detailed description of the second woman.
"We are going to go up to the medical examiner's office and match scars," Whitney said.
Attempts to match identification pictures found in purses and luggage with the six bodies has been slow, grim work.
"I guess a lot of the faces were messed up enough that they can't be sure of identification," Whitney said.
Investigators also have been working from lists, using the process of elimination to try to find out who the victims are.
They have a list of all the people treated at the Evanston hospital and all the people who reported to the armory to get a ride out of Wyoming, as well as a list of people on a bus that left Salt Lake at nearly the same time as the ill-fated bus and was also heading for Chicago.
A special hot-line number set up to field calls from relatives and friends of passengers or possible passengers has been ringing constantly.
"We have three people answering the phones, and we've been pretty busy all night," Whitney said.
When people call, investigators go through three lists. If a caller is confident a relative or someone they know was on one of the buses, but the name doesn't show up on any of the first three lists, those names go on a list of "unidentifieds."
The callers don't want their relatives or friends to go on that list.
"It's really hard. They (the callers) are just frantic," Whitney said. "We're telling them that we've done everything we can. We have to wait for the medical examiner to do his job. It will be at least tomorrow before we have something to give them."
Eventually, as a last resort, "we may have to go to things like fingerprinting and dental records to identify" the victims, he said.