GRAND FORKS - Five person were recovering an hospital today after a Calgary-bound bus plunged 400 feet down a mountain-side nine miles west of this Interior town yesterday.
About 40 others escaped serious injury when the Greyhound bus swerved off the Cascade mountain road and hurtled into a rocky creek below. The bus was believed to have gone out of control in slushy snow.
Police said the heavy frost on the mountainside checked momentum of the bus as it ripped through pines before reaching the bottom. They said more serious injuries were avoided because the bus was packed, preventing passengers from being thrown around inside.
Dazed passengers battled their way up the slope in freezing temperatures, forming a human chain to pass stretchers up to waiting ambulances and cars on the highway.
Passing motorists aided in the rescue, treating many for minor injuries at the scene.
In hospital are Mrs. F. W. Zutch, New Westminster, B.C.; Harry Smith, Penticton, B.C., the bus driver; Ted Roberts, 17, New Denver, B.C.; Mary McDonald, 21, Trail, B.C.; and Gladys Cook, 16, Grand Forks.
Many other passengers were University of British Columbia students returning to their homes for the Christmas holiday.
Miss McDonald, a school teacher, took te night bus from Vancouver because she was anxious to see her parents in Trail. Suffering from a nervous condition before the crash, she had been ordered by doctors to rest quietly at home during the holiday.
The bus today resembled a crumbled piece of paper.
U.B.C. student Dave Verkerk of Fernie, B.C., related:
"I was half asleep and all of a sudden a scraping sound woke me.
"I saw the driver wrestling with the wheel.
"We went a short way and then started to topple. I was thrown up and struck my head and blacked out.
"When I came to I heard a lady moaning and asking for her purse. I told her she's be all right and I suddenly spotted a big opening in the side of the bus.
I tried to help some of the passengers out and the next thing I knew I was being helped up the bank by one of the many people who stopped at the scene.
Keith McAdam, another passenger, said he heard screaming as the bus went over the bank.
"I felt the bus hitting on both sides. I landed on top of two others and was the second one out.
"It seemed no time at all until the passers-by were streaming down the hill to help us."