Dozens hurt in tour bus crash
MERRITT, B.C.—Dozens of tourists were injured, at least five of them critically, when a bus carrying them through a picturesque British Columbia mountain pass rolled over yesterday.
RCMP Sgt. Norm Flemming said 56 passengers suffered some sort of injury when the southbound bus crashed around 3 p.m. on the Coquihalla Highway, about 30 km south of Merritt.
Flemming earlier had said six of the passengers were in critical condition, 15 were seriously hurt, and the rest suffered bumps, bruises, and cuts requiring stitches.
But Interior Health later issued a statement saying five patients transported to hospitals in Kamloops, Kelowna, and Merritt were in critical condition.
Another 10 were in serious condition while 28 had non-life threatening injuries.
“We don’t have any fatalities listed yet, and we’re just crossing our fingers and hoping for the best on that one,” said Flemming.
He said the cause of the accident is under investigation, noting the bus was the only vehicle involved.
Flemming said two interpreters were on the bus and he described the passengers as Asian, but had no additional information.
Nick Kam, director of service for Super Vacation, a company based in Richmond, B.C. that identifies itself on its website as the “largest Chinese tour operator in North America,” confirmed the bus was on a tour organized by his company.
“It’s our tour, yes,” Kam told The Canadian Press.
Kam said the bus was not owned by Super Vacation but was chartered through another company, which he didn’t identify.
He also said the other company provided the driver.
After Kam placed the call on hold, another man who did not identify himself picked up the phone and said the tour was returning from the Rocky Mountains and was on a leg between Kamloops and Vancouver.
When asked about the passengers’ origins, the second man said they came from “everywhere.”
Daniel Parsons was on his way home from work when he happened upon the scene.
Police and ambulances already were there and two school buses had been brought in to help with the injured, he noted.
“You could see the bus, it was right off the side of the highway and it looked like it had rolled over,” Parsons recounted.
“There was just a pile of people all along the side of the bus receiving medical assistance and you could see some blood on the side of the bus,” he added.
“It was a pretty bad scene for sure. I haven’t seen one like that.”
He said the crash appeared to happen along a slight curve in the highway.
Kelsie Carwithen of B.C. Emergency Health Services said six helicopters and 19 ambulances were dispatched to the scene.
The highway was closed yesterday evening, with air ambulances landing on the roadway.
“It’s a big mess,” said Flemming.