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Impaired driver crashes bus carrying 46 Army National Guard members, Oregon cops say

A bus driver faces DUI charges in Oregon after crashing his vehicle with 46 Army National Guard members aboard on Monday, according to police.

State police said Kenneth Alexander, the 44-year-old driver from Vancouver, Washington, drove the vehicle off of U.S. Highway 101 in Manzanita around 7 a.m.

None of the passengers were injured, but Alexander was hospitalized for evaluation, state police said in a news release Tuesday morning.

Police said the National Guard members on the bus were from Medford, and their bus was taking them from Camp Rilea to Portland.

But Alexander missed a turn onto U.S. Highway 26 near Seaside — and though he “assured the passengers he knew the route” and kept driving south on 101, “the passengers grew concerned over the driver using his cell phone and showing signs of impairment,” police said.

That’s when “the driver lost control of the bus and crashed into the sidewalk,” police said.

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The case has been forwarded to the Tillamook County District Attorney’s Office on suggested charges of driving under the influence and 46 counts of reckless endangering, police said.

The City of Manzanita hosted the stranded National Guard members at City Hall until a replacement bus arrived, according to state police.

“The chartered bus driver had a medical issue and ran off the road at Highway 101 at the entrance to Manzanita at about 6:30 a.m.,” Manzanita Mayor Mike Scott said, according to the Tillamook Headlight Herald. “We hosted 50 soldiers at City Hall until a replacement bus arrived at about 11 a.m.”

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The newspaper reported that the “Big Wave Restaurant and the Manzanita Little Apple Market also provided assistance with the incident.”

Photos released by state police show the bus resting in the dirt and grass between the highway and the sidewalk.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.
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