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'I've never seen anything so horrible'

"I was the only passenger awake on the bus," says Wu Shougui. "We were all sleepy. We'd got up at 5am to drive out to the Grand Canyon. I can't remember exactly what was happening just before. It all came so fast."

Wu says the bus swerved in an S shape and then overturned. "I was sitting at the back, and my wife and son were several rows in front. I remember gripping the handrail. Something told me I'd be dead if I let go."

When the bus skidded to a halt, Wu found he had been thrown out of his seat. "I heard my wife crying that our boy wasn't there. She said she couldn't move because something was pressing down on her legs."

Wu managed to climb out of a window to look for his eight-year-old son, Wu Shuang.

"I was frightened to death. I was so scared he was dead."

The boy had been thrown from the bus but landed on a patch of sand.

"When I found him, two American women were taking care of him. They had covered him with a coat and were covering his eyes so he couldn't see the crash site."

Wu says his son's face was covered in blood and swollen. But the accident scene was far more gruesome. "There was blood everywhere and I could see parts of people's brains. I've never seen anything so horrible before."

Around this time, another bus carrying Chinese tourists arrived at the scene and passengers spilled out to help. Among them was Lu Yiran.

"I was dozing in the bus, but the driver shouted and woke us all up," Lu says. "My wife and I rushed to the crash scene. People were lying on the road. I think at least four were dead because their faces were covered with blankets. Then I heard people talking in Shanghai dialect. I couldn't believe it.

"A woman was trying to pull someone out of the bus but my wife told her not to move anyone until ambulances arrived. The woman trapped in the bus had a rather fair face, covered with blood. She said her name was Zhao Yinglei."

Soon police cars, ambulances and helicopters reached the scene. Eight-year-old Wu Shuang was the first to be put in a helicopter. "The American emergency workers valued the kids most," says Wu.

When Wu's wife had been rescued from inside the bus, and all the injured had been carried away, Wu collapsed. "All my energy seemed to have been used up," he says. "I found I couldn't move my left shoulder and my waist. Blood was trickling down my back."

The family spent the next two days in hospital but none were critically injured. Wu says the hardest thing was facing those who had lost family members.

"One injured man kept asking me how his son-in-law was doing. I didn't know how to tell him his son-in-law was dead."

Around the time Wu's family was released from hospital, Lu Yiran was involved in another bus crash. While traveling from Philadelphia to Washington, his group's bus was hit by a truck.

"The impact was horrible," he says. "Everyone started screaming." Lu's wife was injured, but not critically.

Back in Shanghai, Wu says the survivors of the Arizona crash have promised to meet every January 30.

"The survivors must be strong to comfort those who lost loved ones," he says.


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