FAIRPLAY, Colo. (AP) -- Some of the 45 teen-agers and adults on a Minnesota charter bus that overturned on a mountain pass are defending the driver, who has being held Monday on dozens of reckless driving charges.
Two passengers were in serious condition in Denver area hospitals, including a 17-year-old boy who had been upgraded from critical condition overnight.
Meanwhile, there were lots of hugs and cheers Monday morning as parents reunited with their teen-age children, some bandaged and bruised, who returned to Minnesota.
"It's the best feeling in the world to know she's fine and all is well. That's all you can ask for," said Tom Nelson as he waited for his daughter at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.
The group of high school students from Burnsville was headed to Frontier Ranch, a camp run by a Christian youth group, when the accident occurred Saturday near the 10,000-foot summit of Kenosha Pass. The bus went off the road on U.S. 285 and rolled on its side, the Colorado State Patrol said.
Driver Greg David Wright, 54, of Minnesota City, was arrested Sunday after his release from the hospital on 45 counts of careless driving causing injury and one count of violating commercial carrier safety regulations dealing with defective vehicles.
State Trooper Richard Breece said the brakes on the bus were out of adjustment. Wright was taken to the Park County jail in Fairplay where he was being held on $45,000 bond.
Breece said the charges, all misdemeanors, may change depending on what the investigation reveals and what prosecutors want to do. Authorities arrested Wright rather than wait because it might be difficult to file charges once he leaves the state, Breece said.
The crash occurred as the bus crested the pass 50 miles southwest of Denver. The bus spun 180 degrees, then rolled twice, landing on its left side and crushing trees, said Sgt. Martin Petrik of the State Patrol.
Petrik said there was evidence that something punctured one of the right rear tires. Witnesses said it began to rain minutes before the crash.
Scott Boeser, a volunteer with Young Life, the group that operates Frontier Ranch, was riding up front with the driver right before the accident.
"I wasn't alerted to any unsafe driving. I just think the road got really slick after the rain," Boeser said.
At least four people were airlifted to hospitals after the accident and a 16-year-old girl remained in serious condition at St. Anthony Central Hospital on Monday.
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