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

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Dutch 94-year-old in Saanich earns permanent Canadian residency

Couple of 45 years to stay together in Cadboro Bay

Ron MacDonnell leans over the railing on Beacon Wharf Tuesday afternoon. The Town of City is currently looking into the future of the aging structure. It could make way for a concrete pontoon once part of the floating bridge over Hood Canal in Washington State. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney explores public-private partnership for iconic Beacon Wharf

Wharf committee recommends town invite pontoon company to submit proposal

Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, is shown during a news conference in Ottawa in 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
Isolating provinces is a bad idea, says Canadian Chamber of Commerce

National business organization calls for cohesive approach to COVID-19 measures

SD62 bus driver Kerry Zado said it’s common to see drivers lose their patience and pass by his bus while he’s picking up students during the morning commute. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
School bus driver laments motorists who pass while red lights are flashing

All buses in Sooke School District outfitted with stop sign cameras

Metchosin Coun. Kyara Kahakauwila is stepping down as deputy mayor following controversy over her decision to travel to Mexico in December. (Black Press Media file photo)
Councillor steps down as deputy mayor of Metchosin after controversial trip to Mexico

Mayor hopeful mediation will help council get back to the business of community

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

(Black Press Media file photo)
From arts to environment, nominate your West Shore hero

Nominations for the Goldstream Gazette’s Local Hero awards are open

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

Most Read