ITD crews and law enforcement officers responded to a bomb threat Thursday that delayed two commercial buses, left passengers stranded for several hours and forced motorists to take a seven-mile alternate route.
It was the second time in three weeks that Idaho traffic and commerce were interrupted by fears of a bomb. Idaho 55 was closed Sept. 27 for nearly six hours after an ITD bridge inspection crew reported a suspicious item suspended beneath historic Rainbow Bridge north of Horseshoe Bend.
Thursday’s threat was determined to be a hoax.
Idaho State Police are investigating the telephoned report to the Greyhound bus terminal in Ogden, Utah. According to ISP reports, an unidentified person called the bus terminal at about 2:15 p.m. indicating that a bus destined for California with a planned stop in Salt Lake City was carrying a bomb.
“Information, including a bus number given by the caller, matched the description of two buses that were in Idaho at the time,” according to ISP Information Officer Rick Ohnsman. Greyhound officials contacted the Weber County (Utah) Sheriff’s office, which in turn called ISP.
A short time later, a southbound Rimrock Stages/Trailways bus was stopped at the Malad Pass Rest Area on I-15 south of Pocatello and an eastbound Greyhound bus was pulled over near the Hazelton exit of I-84, about 21 miles east of Twin Falls.
Greyhound passengers were transported in a Valley High School bus to a truck plaza near Hazelton. Passengers on the Rimrock/Trailways waited in the Malad Rest Area for clearance to resume their journey.
Traffic was rerouted on a frontage road near Hazleton; there was no direct impact on I-15 traffic.
Passengers safely left both buses while law enforcement officers secured the area and dispatched explosives teams to investigate, Ohnsman said.
A bomb-sniffing dog and police team from the Boise Airport checked luggage and the Greyhound bus. The Department of Defense 62nd Explosives Ordnance Team (EOD) from the Tooele Army Depot in Tooele, Utah, responded to the Malad Rest Area.
Ohnsman said all such threats are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly – at considerable expense in time and resources.
“It’s a big inconvenience, but post-9/11you have to look at it that way,” said ISP incident commander Kevin Haight.
Investigators are trying to determine whether there is any connection between the removal of a bus passenger at Stanfield, Ore., and the bomb threat.