A bus transporting a group of tourists back to Nevada from the Grand Canyon was swept up in a flash flood today, and carried 300 yards down a wash before coming to rest on its side, officials said.
Despite the frightening experience, none of the 33 people on board the tour bus were hurt and they managed to get to dry land after it came to a stop, Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District No. 1 officials said.
"The occupants were extremely lucky to have survived the ordeal and were very fortunate to have no fatalities or injuries due to the remote location of the incident," Fire Chief Patrick Moore said.
The tour bus was driving west on Pierce Ferry Road at approximately 1:50 p.m., returning from the Grand Canyon Skywalk, when the driver attempted to cross a wash that was flowing due to recent heavy rainstorms in the area.
"What we had was a monsoon type flash flood across a major thoroughfare that runs out to a tourist location," Kingman fire captain Robert Cole said.
The bus was lifted in the rising flood waters and started to flat downstream, fire officials said.
As the bus was being carried away, calls were made to emergency personnel, but rescue crews were delayed getting there because of the remote location and because other washes were also flowing, officials said.
By the time the fire department got there, everyone on the bus had been able to climb out through the windows and get safely to dry land.
The area where the bus accident occurred received 0.75 inches of rain in about an hour this afternoon, Chris Stumpf, a National Weather Service forecaster in Las Vegas, told The Associated Press.
The bus should not have been traveling in that area at the time, because there was a flash flood warning in effect, Stumpf said.
"It was a really strong storm dumping quite a bit of rain ... and it caused flash flooding," Stumpf said. "They were driving on a portion of the road where they shouldn't have tried to drive across. They should not have been driving through there."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.