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Bus crash

Officials remove two bodies from the scene of the crash of a Rimrock Stages bus that slid of an icy stretch of Interstate 90 and rolled on to its side just west of Clinton, Mont., early Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012.

 

Rimrock Stages is covering all out-of-pocket expenses for victims of Sunday's bus crash near Clinton.

That crash on icy Interstate 90 killed two people and left the remaining passengers injured to varying degrees.

"We have been letting people know that we're taking care of their needs and the needs of their families who have had to come visit them," said Tom Forseth, who founded the bus line in 1972. "This is a terrible thing for everyone, so we want to make sure that people know that whatever needs to be done for them, we're going to do it."

Forseth and Carla Destifanes, manager for Rimrock in Missoula, visited patients still hospitalized, and spoke to numerous family members.

"If they've had family fly in or drive in, we want to cover those costs," Forseth said. "If they have to stay here while their relative is in the hospital, we'll take care of it, and we will make sure these folks get home any way they want to."

The westbound bus crashed about 7:15 a.m. Sunday and wound up on its side in the median. The Montana Highway Patrol said the highway was extremely icy at the time of the wreck. The patrol's investigation continues.

Community Medical Center had two injured patients in its care Tuesday morning, but one was discharged later in the day and the last patient will leave on Wednesday.

St. Patrick Hospital, which took on the crash's more seriously injured victims, continues to treat six passengers, two of whom are in critical condition. Two patients were discharged on Tuesday.

Destifanes said she and Forseth were unable to see the victims still in intensive care, but paid visits to the others.

"It's very tough because we know a lot of these people," said Destifanes. "We know them because they've been on the bus for years."

And that made meeting the sister of Robert Lange, a Kalispell trucker who died in the crash, especially difficult.

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"He was a wonderful man who we knew from riding the bus," Destifanes said. "To see his sister and embrace her, it was very difficult for me and it was probably more difficult for her. It's just a terrible thing for everyone."

Forseth said the bus company has also been getting people's property back to them, including the laptop computer that passenger Doug Taylor, the subject of a Missoulian story on Tuesday, reported missing.

"That was his office in his computer, so he's glad to have it back," Forseth said. "There is some property that we haven't been able to return, and that is property that had to be taken to a biohazard company to be cleaned up."

Beyond the property, Forseth and Destifanes said they'll stay focused on taking care of the victims and their families.

"We've made arrangements for all the family members who are coming to Missoula," Destifanes said. "They don't need all that added stress, so we will do whatever it takes to take care of them."

Forseth said the bus company's insurance will provide coverage for costs directly related to the crash.

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