As the investigation continues into a Greyhound bus accident that injured 29 people along a desolate stretch of desert highway, the Utah Highway Patrol said Wednesday it expects only minor charges to be filed against the driver, who allegedly fell asleep at the wheel.
At a minimum, Lance Fredrickson, 43, could be charged with unsafe lane travel, a misdemeanor that would probably carry with it a fine similar to a speeding ticket, said patrol trooper Guy Webster, the investigating officer in the case.
There was no indication that Fredrickson was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but the results of a blood test were pending, Webster said.
Twenty-nine people, including Fredrickson, were injured Tuesday after the bus carrying 32 people from Las Vegas en route Denver rolled onto its side about 30 miles west of Green River on I-70.
Most of the injured suffered only minor injuries, but an adult male remained in intensive care in a Grand Junction, Colo., hospital Wednesday, where he was listed in serious condition, said Kathy Cherin, a spokeswoman for St. Mary's Hospital and Medical Center.
A patient admitted to a hospital in Price remained under observation Wednesday but was in "good condition," said Terri Watkins, chief nursing officer at Castle View Hospital.
Fredrickson told officers he either blacked out or fell asleep, Webster said.
He will be placed on non-driving status while the investigation continues, said Lynn Brown, a spokeswoman for Greyhound Lines Inc.
Webster called drowsy drivers the No. 1 driving problem in the desert area of southeastern Utah, in which towns that dot the interstate are more than 100 miles apart with few services areas in between.
The Highway Patrol is compiling passenger lists and injuries, inspecting the bus for potential mechanical problems and diagramming the accident scene.
There did not appear to be any major mechanical problems with the bus, Webster said.
Once the report is complete, it will be submitted to the Emery County Attorney's Office, which will make the final determination of any charges to be filed.
Falling asleep at the wheel does not carry with it a criminal charge. Reckless driving requires intent, and prosecutors cannot prove a person intended to fall asleep, Webster said.
Webster said logbooks showed that Fredrickson was within U.S. Department of Transportation regulations and had not exceeded his daily driving limit.
Federal guidelines allow drivers of passenger buses to drive a maximum of 10 hours, followed by at least eight hours of rest. Greyhound drivers are generally limited to 9.5 hours a day, with 11 hours of rest between driving assignments, Brown said.