Published on : Saturday, August 30, 2014
MERRITT, B.C. — Several tourists were injured, at least five of them critically, when a bus they were travelling in through a British Columbia mountain pass rolled over Thursday.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Sgt. Norm Flemming said at least 56 passengers suffered some sort of injury when the southbound bus crashed at about 3 p.m.
on the Coquihalla Highway, about 30 kilometres south of Merritt. The area is about a three-hour drive northeast of Vancouver.
Flemming had earlier said six of the passengers were in critical condition, 15 were seriously hurt and the rest suffered bumps, bruises and cuts requiring stitches.
However, 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 and 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 he 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, B.C., and Vancouver.
Kelsie Carwithen of B.C. Emergency Health Services said six helicopters and 19 ambulances were dispatched to the scene.
The highway was closed Thursday evening, with air ambulances landing on the roadway. Super Vacation’s website states the company was established in 1981 in Lost Angeles, Calif., by a woman named Helen Koo.
The company operates 15 branches and has an office in Richmond, B.C. It employs more than 300 staff and owns around 30 deluxe tour coaches in Canada and the United States.
It says it operates more than 150 monthly tours and serves more than 150,000 customers every year.
Tags: Canadian mountain, tour bus