A Minden man was injured Monday afternoon when a tour bus lost its brakes coming down Spooner Summit and wedged his truck between the bus and a big rig.
John Theisen, 68, was taken by helicopter to Renown Regional Medical Center with moderate injuries following the 11:49 a.m. accident at the intersection of Highway 395 and Highway 50 West.
According to semi-truck driver William Potts of Nashville, Tenn., Potts was southbound on Highway 395 when the Amador State Lines tour bus began to merge with traffic at the stop light from Highway 50 West.
"He was coming down the hill pretty quick," said Potts.
The bus then "sandwiched" Theisen's 2003 Dodge pickup truck between itself and Potts' semi.
Potts said Theisen's truck was briefly lodged between the two, but then the bus pushed it out. The truck rolled over and rested with its undercarriage against the door of the bus.
Bus passenger Lisa Nemmer and her 12-year-old son Jesse were on their way to catch a flight to Mountain View, Calif., when it appeared the bus had lost its brakes, Nemmer said.
"Seconds before the crash the bus driver said 'Hold on,' because there was a big rig coming and he couldn't stop," she said. "It felt like there were no brakes."
Dawn Joyce, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., said she also believed the bus lost its brakes.
"I definitely got the impression that he could not stop," she said of bus driver John L. Cook, 48, of South Lake Tahoe. "It felt like he was trying to stop but it appeared he could not."
Joyce said initially the bus driver asked everyone to remain seated, but when passengers started seeing smoke and gasoline, they began climbing out the windows.
"It was a pretty relaxed exit," she said.
The only injuries reported among the 21 bus passengers were minor, including Jesse Hemmer's fingers, which were accidentally slammed in the window as he was climbing out.
Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen said bus driver Cook reported he was "stab breaking" down the hill prior to the accident.
"He said he had already passed the last truck ramp and he saw the light start to cycle red and as he applied the brakes he had none," Allen said.
Southbound traffic was delayed for several hours while the wreckage was cleared.
Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.