A tour bus slammed into a truck in southern Egypt on Sunday, killing eight Americans and injuring 21 others in the latest fatal crash involving tourists, the state news agency said.
The bus was taking a tour group on the 115-mile journey from Aswan to the ancient temples of Abu Simbel along Lake Nasser when it ran into the truck carrying sand parked on the side of a single lane desert road, killing six women and two men.
Among those killed was Jean Byrd of San Diego, a retired San Diego Unified schoolteacher who taught for years at Silvergate Elementary in Point Loma. Byrd's son, Jason, said on Monday that she was coming out of retirement to help start a local charter school.
Byrd described his mother as generous to a fault, willing to help anyone who needed anything, whether they were friends or a homeless person she had only met a few minutes before. He said she was very active in her church, Bethel A.M.E., located on K Street between 30th and 31st streets.
The Encanto woman loved to travel; this was her second trip to the Middle East. According to her son, Jean Byrd was in Egypt with a close friend from San Diego who was hurt in the crash.
Egyptian security officials said the hurt Americans were first transferred to a military hospital for treatment and then 10 of the injured, including two Egyptians, were airlifted to a hospital in Cairo.
An official of Misr Sinai Tours, which was running the bus service, said the accident occurred around dawn while it was still dark about 13 miles (22 kilometers) outside of Aswan. The official said the bus, containing 37 passengers, was part of a larger tour of 116 American tourists traveling in three buses.
The other buses did not continue on to Abu Simbel and instead returned to Aswan, he said, declining to be identified.
The U.S. embassy in Cairo confirmed that the injured are being moved by military transport to Cairo, but said in a statement that it didn't have any further information on the accident or those involved.
The Great Temple at Abu Simbel, known for its four colossal statues, was built during the reign of Ramses II and was dedicated to the god Amun. It is considered one of the most beautiful ancient monuments in Egypt.
Road accidents are common in Egypt because of bad roads and poor enforcement of traffic rules, and crashes involving tour groups are not uncommon.
Last month, eight foreign tourists were killed when their tour bus lost control and flipped over several times on a winding mountain road near a resort on Egypt's Red Sea coast, while in October six Belgian tourists were killed in a crash in the south.
Following last month's accident, authorities closed several travel operators after complaints of inadequate safety measures and bad driving.
Misr Tours is a joint stock investment company and one of Egypt's leading full service ground operators.
An estimated 8,000 people die in car accidents annually in Egypt.