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Bartlesville Couple Who Survived Fatal Bus Crash Plans To Return To Egypt

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Helen and John Vanderveen are from Bartlesville. Helen and John Vanderveen are from Bartlesville.
Wreckage of the bus after the crash [File photo] Wreckage of the bus after the crash [File photo]
The Vanderveens receive medical attention after the crash [Photo courtesy: Reuters] The Vanderveens receive medical attention after the crash [Photo courtesy: Reuters]

Dan Bewley, News On 6

BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma -- A Bartlesville couple is already planning a return trip to Egypt, two weeks after surviving bus crash that killed eight Americans.

"I think we're very, very lucky," Helen Vanderveen said.

Helen and John Vanderveen were on board a tour bus the day after Christmas, on their way to the Abu Simbel statues in Egypt, when it crashed into a dump truck. Eight American tourists were killed.

12/29/2010 Related Story: Bartlesville Couple Who Survived Fatal Wreck Return Home From Egypt

"It was chaos because of the way the bus was, but people were not screaming, they were not shouting," Helen said.

The Vanderveens were asleep and sitting on the side opposite of the crash. Helen suffered a few cuts on her forehead, bruises on her face, and a black eye. John's jaw was broken in two places. It'll be wired shut for another six weeks.

The crash quickly made international news and images of the Oklahoma couple were splashed across the world. But the Vanderveens had no idea. They weren't even going to call their children, but that would soon change.

"We didn't think it was an international story," said Helen.

"We were hugged by a woman in Frankfurt at the airport and said, 'Thank God you survived.' She recognized us," John said.

"Well we were both looked, kind of, bad because the bruises were bigger," Helen added.

The Vanderveens don't normally buy travel insurance but they did this time out of security concerns and they say the next time they're definitely going to buy insurance and they're definitely going to go back.

"Usually I finish everything I start and I haven't seen that statue," Helen said.

The Vanderveens say it was vacation they'll never forget, but mostly because of the way their fellow travelers handled the tragic turn of events.

"Most of these people were extremely mature even though they had losses that were hard on them," Helen said. "They were reaching out to other people trying to do what they could, that's a good experience."

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