What began as a serene tour through one of the nation’s most picturesque cities turned into a two-block ride of terror as the big blue double-decker bus careened through San Francisco’s Union Square.

Share story

SAN FRANCISCO — Four adults remained in critical condition at a San Francisco hospital after a double-decker tour bus careened out of control Friday, running down a bicyclist, striking two pedestrians and smashing into several moving cars before it plowed into scaffolding at a construction site.

San Francisco General Hospital spokesman Brent Andrew said six people admitted have facial and head injuries and fractured ribs, arms and legs. Some also have organ injuries, he said.

Two men and two women remained in critical condition; two other men were in serious condition, he said, declining to share details about a minor who was also admitted to the hospital Friday night.

What began as a serene tour through one of the nation’s most picturesque cities turned into a two-block ride of terror as the big blue double-decker bus careened through San Francisco’s Union Square before it plowed to a stop amid a heap of twisted metal.

Twenty people were hurt, and at least 30 passengers were onboard when the crash occurred about 3 p.m.

Firefighters had to extricate the two pedestrians, who ended up trapped under the bus, and a passenger trapped on the upper deck.

The driver was conscious and able to speak when firefighters pulled him from the wreckage, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said. But she added it was too early to speculate about what caused the crash.

Officials were still trying to determine what happened, San Francisco Police Department spokesman Albie Esparza said Saturday.

City Sightseeing San Francisco Chief Executive Christian Watts issued a statement by email Saturday, saying the company is “deeply saddened” by the crash.

At St. Francis Hospital, hospital spokeswoman Robin O’Connor said that of three people admitted to the hospital Friday, one man remained in stable condition Saturday.

Union Square is one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. The scaffolding was in front of what is going to be a new Apple store.

Several upscale hotels are near the square, which was crowded with shoppers and tourists on what had been a pleasant day until the bus came roaring through.

Witnesses said the bus raced across two city blocks, hitting the bicyclist, the pedestrians and striking several moving cars before ramming into the scaffolding. Wrecked cars were scattered up and down the street.

The bus also knocked down several power lines used to propel the city’s fleet of electrical buses.

John Zimmer, who works at Union Square Park, said the vehicle never appeared to slow down until it struck the scaffolding.

Union Square was so crowded it was initially difficult to separate some of the injured from the passers-by.