The Salt Lake Greyhound station was uncharacteristically quiet Wednesday afternoon as Chuck McVey waited for his father's bus to pull in.
McVey, a student at the University of Utah, had been checking in and out of the station throughout the day, ever since he heard his father, Fillmore resident Bud McVey, was on his way back from Evanston.Bud McVey was on I-80 near Emory, Summit County, Tuesday morning, driving 45 Greyhound passengers to Chicago when a westbound semitrailer truck slid across the snowy highway and dropped off a median embankment, hitting the bus broadside.
The collision knocked the bus off the road and down a 15-foot embankment about 100 yards away. Seven passengers died and 21 more were injured, some critically.
Information about the crash remained sketchy throughout Tuesday. "My mother heard about it on the news," the younger McVey said. "She called me and we started trying to find out if it was his bus. It was pretty scary for a while."
He went to the bus station to see what he could find out and ended up talking to his father on the telephone when he called to contact officials there.
"He's a bit shook up," Chuck McVey said. "He just wanted to get home."
Finally, the bus carrying 19 of the ill-fated Greyhound's passengers arrived. Bud McVey, his fractured left arm in a sling, stepped down and spied his son, and the two ducked into the baggage area and embraced.
After he had talked with Greyhound and Red Cross officials, Bud McVey recounted the nightmare that started when he saw a huge truck careen over the edge of the embankment above his bus.
When the bus slid to a stop, "I was dangling upside down," McVey said.
Passenger Stuart Palmer, who was sitting in the right front seat next to McVey, came to his aid.
"I had a front-row seat and I saw things get complicated," said Palmer, whose left ankle was fractured in the collision. "I unbuckled (McVey), shut the bus off and kicked the front window out."
Together, they began helping the other passengers.
"We got on the P.A. system, and were able to quiet people down. The people were very cooperative," McVey said.
McVey said he has worked for Greyhound for seven months and has more than 20 years experience as a professional driver. A trained emergency medical technician, he worked for two years with an EMT crew in Fillmore. A bus crash like the one he was in was the worst scenario a small ambulance crew would expect to face, he said.
But "nothing ever prepared me for what was going on inside that bus," he said quietly. "About all we could do was triage."
McVey brushed aside suggestions that his rescue actions were at all heroic, instead praising a Colorado woman who pulled off the road to help treat the passengers, calling her "a real hero." He also said that the Evanston emergency response was superlative. "They saved a lot of lives. I know they did," he said.