By Molly • Molly Walker • 

Mac native aids bus crash victims

There must be another way to return to their homes in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., they thought. And McMinnville native Tony Grover, owner of a chain of car dealerships in Eastern Oregon and Washington, stepped in to make it happen.

“We started something that was a contribution to the Red Cross,” Grover said. Transportation is a serious need in many emergency situations, he said, and he’s always willing to help.

With two dealerships in La Grande and one each in the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla, Grover had plenty of SUVs and drivers available. And his drivers were used to treacherous winter conditions in the Blue Mountains.

Grover’s dealership volunteered to launch a free shuttle service.

He ended up sending five shuttles on their way during the next three days. “We were just trying to help get people home,” he said.

Nine passengers were killed. Several others were badly injured, and some of them remain hospitalized.

Grover is committed to returning all home eventually, when they are able to travel again.

In all, 38 passengers were dispersed among hospitals in Pendleton, La Grande, Hermiston, Tri-Cities, Walla Walla and Boise. Some were even airlifted to Portland or Seattle.

Ten were released after undergoing emergency room treatment. The rest were admitted for stays of at least one night.

The crash was one of the deadliest in Oregon history. Its death toll has not been surpassed in 47 years.

In December 1965, a Greyhound bus lost control on an icy patch in Jackson County, killing 14 and injuring 30. In October 1971, a two-car collision caused by a drunken driver claimed nine lives in Portland.

The bus involved in the recent crash was being operated by Mi Joo Tour & Travel of Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Many passengers were Korean, so the Oregon State Police called on the Korean Consulate to assist with notification of next of kin. 

Grover graduated from McMinnville High School in 1980.

He worked at Ocean Way Jeep and the Midway Motors Dodge and Chrysler dealership in McMinnville before and after their purchase by Jim Doran, who renamed them. He left in June 1998 to acquired Legacy Ford Lincoln, the initial building block for his company.

He once owned a dealership in Seattle as well, but sold it. 

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