Mayor Sharie Minions responds to the news of a bus crash on Bamfield Road. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

The mood in Port Alberni is somber after news of a bus crash on Bamfield Road Friday night (Sept. 13), which resulted in two fatalities and multiple injuries.

Two University of Victoria students were killed after a bus crashed en route to the Marine Sciences Centre at Bamfield as part of a two-day class trip. The bus was carrying 48 people, including the driver, at the time of the accident. Three people were airlifted to Victoria General Hospital with injuries, while the rest of the passengers were taken to a reception centre set up by the City of Port Alberni at the Echo Community Centre.

READ MORE: Two killed after bus crashes taking university students to Bamfield

READ MORE: UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

“It’s an awful situation,” said Mayor Sharie Minions on Saturday morning. “Especially when you hear that it’s a group of young people. I think a lot of people are really feeling the impacts of this.”

Members of the community have been reaching out since last night, said Minions, with offers to volunteer at the reception centre.

“We are just so saddened by this awful tragedy and our condolences go out to the families affected,” she said. “I just can’t imagine what they are going through.”

Minions said she is proud of the response that was pulled together by the city. Echo Centre staff, led by parks, recreation and heritage director Willa Thorpe, opened the reception centre in the middle of the night so uninjured passengers could receive warmth, food and an opportunity to contact their families. City CAO Tim Pley was also up all night coordinating the efforts.

The reception centre closed at about 5 a.m. and victims of the crash were transported to local hotels to get some rest.

“I’ve seen a big improvement with city staff, recognizing that we have an important role to support people in a situation like this, whether it’s within the city limits or not,” said Minions. “I think the city really stepped up and did as much as they could to make a horrible situation for these people as comfortable as possible.”

The response goes beyond the city, she added.

“The school district providing a bus, the hotels who arranged accommodation, those who offered to volunteer,” she said. “I am proud of how amazing a response we were able to provide during such an awful tragedy.”

While the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District is usually responsible for emergency planning and services, the ACRD was not involved in this incident.

“In this case I don’t believe ACRD staff was mobilized,” said Minions. “At the City we have a lot more resources and in a case like this we just jump into action.”

Port Alberni Fire Department Fire Chief Mike Owens said the department received the call at 9:45 p.m. on Friday night and responded to the scene of the incident. A bus had rolled 20 feet down an embankment near the 36-kilometre marker near the Carmanah Main Junction. The cause of the incident is still unclear.

“The bus was overturned, it was on its side,” Owens explained. “We needed to utilize rope rescue equipment to get down to the bus.”

In the bus, they found two deceased individuals, as well as one person that required extrication. Others had made it up the embankment either on their own or with assistance.

Other organizations involved in the initial emergency response included RCMP, BC Emergency Health Services, the Alberni Valley Rescue Squad, Huu-ay-aht First Nations and the 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron. School District 70 provided a bus to transport passengers.

Bamfield Road is an approximately 85 km stretch of mostly gravel road between the communities of Port Alberni and Bamfield. The road is heavily used by large trucks, tourists and residents of the southern Barclay Sound area. The city, ACRD and other coastal communities have been calling for safety improvements to Bamfield Road for years.

READ MORE: Logging truck crash near Bamfield shows need for new road

Minions said she travelled the road over the summer and was “appalled” by the condition.

“We all know that Huu-ay-aht [First Nations] has really been leading the charge for improvements to the Bamfield Road,” she added. “The city has reached out to the province and requested safety improvements to that road as well. It will continue to be a push. There’s a lot of work to be done, and situations like last night really highlight that.”

The city will continue to support the communities affected, the RCMP and emergency response agencies as more details become available. For family members seeking information, RCMP are asking that you call 250-723-2424.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Campbell River mom’s iPhone containing priceless photos stolen from Victoria hospital parkade

The phone contained photos, heartbeat recordings of her late son

PHOTOS: Old Time Christmas 2019

Friday, December 6 was Ladysmith’s Old Time Christmas. Here are some of the highlights from the night

Student artwork on display in ‘Well Lit’ installation

Thoughtful Place Design, 49th Parallel, and Festival of Lights came together to showcase student art

Ladysmith set to star in new Syfy series: Resident Alien

Ladysmith will play the role of Patience, Colorado in the series

Ladysmith wins ‘Brownie’ Reach Out award for communication of Waterfront Plan

The Town of Ladysmith has received national recognition for the successful public… Continue reading

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

Nearly 80% of the domestic violence victims who reported to police last year were women

Most Read