PORT ALBERNI (NEWS 1130) — In the wake of a deadly bus crash on Vancouver Island, Port Alberni’s mayor says the city and First Nations have been pushing the province to improve road conditions in the area for years.
Two University of Victoria students were killed in the crash after the bus they were riding in rolled over on a narrow stretch of gravel road and plunged into a ravine Friday night. More than a dozen others were injured. Forty-seven people were on the bus, which was on it’s way to the Bamfield Marine Science Centre when it rolled over around 10 p.m.
Mayor Sharon Minions says the road has needed improvement for years.
“I’m incredibly saddened that it had to come to this. But, at the end of the day, we don’t want to see it happen again,” she says. “The road is heavily utilized by large trucks, tourists and residents of the southern Barclay Sound area. The City and other coastal communities have been calling for safety improvements to Bamfield Road and they will continue to push for these improvements in the weeks and months ahead.”
Robert Dennis, Chief Councillor of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation, witnessed the aftermath of Friday’s crash. He and his wife helped the passengers with water and lighting while another couple drove to nearby Pachena Bay to call 911.
“It was quite a while before they could call for help,” he explains. “There’s no cell service basically between Port Alberni and Bamfield except for at a couple spots.”
Dennis says the road can be a challenging one to navigate even in good weather and he had recently lost
“It was raining off and on down here and it makes the road conditions more treacherous,” he says.
The company that operated the bus issued a statement Saturday saying the vehicle recently had passed safety inspections and had seat belts. The driver was properly trained and certified and suffered injuries himself but has been released from hospital.
The cause of the fatal crash is still not clear and is under investigation by RCMP.
With files from the Canadian Press