Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers help rescue 44 Korean tourists stuck on remote road

Posted at 3:06 PM, Jan 26, 2017

Authorities from several agencies worked to free a tour bus full of nearly four dozen tourists from across the Pacific after it became stuck on a forest service road Monday.

A release from the Arizona Department of Public Safety said the bus was taking 44 Korean tourists on a visit to the Grand Canyon.

The bus was heading back along State Route 180 toward Page when the driver decided to transition to an alternate route suggested by a GPS device due to a winter storm and roadway conditions.

The alternate route was Forest Service Road 417, which cuts through the Coconino National Forest and bypasses having to go all the way back to Flagstaff on SR 180. The driver decided to turn back to SR 180 when he realized the forest road was not safe, DPS said.

The bus became stuck when the driver tried to turn around and called for help around 4 p.m.

Responders first tried to move the bus with a heavy-duty tow truck, but were unsuccessful due to the poor weather and road conditions.

Freezing temperatures, snowfall and darkness began to set in, but troopers said the passengers were able to keep warm because the bus had a full tank of fuel, allowing it to remain operating during the eight-hour rescue.

ADOT plowed the snow off of SR 180 to clear an access route from the scene to a nearby command post. Troopers and a citizen began shuttling the Korean tourists and the bus driver in their vehicles to the command post, where they were loaded into a Williams Unified School District bus.

The bus took the group back to Valle, where the tourists were able to make lodging accommodations.

Authorities said they were grateful to have the situation resolved without injury, and reminded drivers that alternate routes suggested by computer programs are not necessarily all created equal, as dirt roads are not as regularly maintained as highways during winter storms.