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Bus crash

Officials remove two bodies from the scene of a Rimrock Stages bus crash on Jan. 8 on Interstate 90 just west of Clinton. The bus apparently slid on an icy stretch and rolled onto its side. The driver and 31 others were transported to hospitals in Missoula for treatment.

MISSOULA -- Eric Jackson said he is still waiting to be reimbursed $80 for prescriptions after being hurt in the fatal Rimrock Stages bus crash earlier this month.

The Missoula man said he knows it's not a lot of money, but he's disabled and has had to borrow the money from friends. A company representative told him that Rimrock would cover medical costs, but now, he said, the company is telling him that he must produce evidence that he was on the bus.

"They gave me the runaround, and they're putting it on me to prove that I was on there," Jackson said.

Rimrock Stages, whose bus crashed on Interstate 90 near Clinton in a wreck that killed two people, doesn't have any record of Jackson on its manifest, according to a spokesman.

Dan Ronan, with the American Bus Association in Washington, D.C., said Rimrock asked the association to take media calls.

"I know sometimes that identifying passengers is a tricky thing. I don't know the answers," Ronan said. "The manifest doesn't show him on the bus."

According to Jackson, the paramedics took him to St. Patrick Hospital, but Ronan said he didn't know if Rimrock had sought those records. He said he would check to see the steps that Rimrock was taking to verify that Jackson was a passenger.

"I'm not discounting that (Mr. Jackson) was on that bus. I'm not discounting that at all, and I can't speak for Rimrock on this," Ronan said. "I don't know if he was on the bus or not because I wasn't there."

He said Jackson's claim is the only one that remains pending as far as he knows. Rimrock has tried to verify that the Missoula man was riding, he said, but it hasn't been successful so far.

"The company has done several checks to try and figure out if he was on the bus or not, and, at this point, they haven't shown him as a passenger," Ronan said. "I talked briefly with their ownership yesterday, and they've checked their records and hospital records and police stuff, and his name just doesn't show up."

Jackson said one reason his name isn't on record with Rimrock is that his father purchased tickets with cash. The trip was supposed to be a surprise for his mom.

"This was supposed to be the best Christmas we've had in 2-1/2 decades," Jackson said.

Instead, he's trying to push some of the grisly images from the wreck out of his mind, such as one man's legs broken and bent up to his chin. Jackson said he was one of the least of the most critically injured who was taken to St. Pat's, so he was transported last or second to last.

The hospital discharged him the same night after giving him seven or eight shots of painkillers, he said, but he doesn't think he should have been released that early. A St. Patrick Hospital official confirmed that Jackson was admitted and released on Jan. 8, the day of the bus crash.

Jackson asked Rimrock to confirm he was a passenger by calling the paramedics. He tried to use the portion of his luggage claim check that's still on his baggage handle as proof, but he said that didn't work either.

So far, his bill is $80, but it could go up. Jackson said he's scheduled for an MRI, he isn't sure what happened to the initial hospital bill (the Rimrock spokesman didn't know if Rimrock had paid it) and he may need more prescriptions.

He isn't used to the pain pills that he's taking, so he isn't sure if he's overreacting to the situation. But his frustration is mounting: "Right now, I'm about to lose it."