The wife of a tour bus driver who miraculously saved himself and passengers in a weekend collision on an expressway recalled Wednesday the surreal moment she saw a car flying toward the bus on which she was working as a tour guide.
"The moment I wondered why a car was flying over, it crashed. I heard screams and it did not feel real," Umeyo Yamamoto, 60, said at a press conference in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, four days after the crash.
In the incident that occurred Saturday morning, a car driven by a 62-year-old doctor jumped the dividing strip and rammed into the tour bus on the Tomei Expressway in Shinshiro in the central Japan prefecture.
Her husband Yoshimune, who managed to maneuver the bus to a safe halt despite the crash remains in hospital with a brain contusion and broken ribs among other injuries. The crash left the car driver dead and a total of 45 of the 47 people on the bus injured.
Umeyo said she bent down at the moment of impact. She saw her husband covered in blood on the driver's seat when the bus stopped and she screamed, "My husband is going to die!"
Despite the stench of fuel, she said she managed not to panic by talking with other passengers and calmly exited the bus with them.
The couple had asked the passengers to fasten their seatbelts three times after departing Toyokawa for a cherry-picking and shopping day trip to the Minami-Alps in Yamanashi Prefecture, a move that apparently helped to prevent fatalities.
Umeyo said such repeated requests were "not special," adding, "I am thankful that our customers complied."
She said her husband has told her he cannot remember the moment of the crash but said he was happy he was able to save the lives of the passengers.
The operator of the bus said the seatbelt instructions as well as Yoshimune's decision to apply an auxiliary brake while steering to the left had saved those on the bus.
Police suspect the car lost control after hitting a guard rail and jumped from a dividing strip to hit the front of the tour bus. They are still investigating the accident.© KYODO