Bus crash update

Interior Health has announced that seven people are now listed in critical condition following Thursday afternoon's tour bus crash south of Merritt.

Of the 43 patients sent to local hospitals, 10 were sent to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, 22 to Kelowna General Hospital in Kelowna, and 11 to the Nicola Valley Hospital & Health Centre in Merritt.

At this time:

  • 19 have been discharged from hospital, including all 11 from Merritt.
  • 9 remain at Royal Inland Hospital and 15 at Kelowna General.
  • Of the 24 remaining in hospital, 7 are in critical condition, 6 in serious, 11 have non-life-threatening injuries.

In addition to those patients taken to interior hospitals, 12 patients were directly transferred from the accident scene to hospitals in the Lower Mainland. 

Six went to Fraser Canyon Hospital in Hope, five to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster and one to Chilliwack General Hospital. These patients are all in stable condition.

A Code Orange was initiated at all three local hospitals, bringing in additional staff and physicians to support patient care.

The bus involved in the crash is owned by Western Bus Lines, located in Kelowna. The tour company involved is Super Vacation, located in Richmond.

Nicholas Kam, their director of sales, emphasized in a press conference Friday morning that the bus is not owned or operated by Super Vacation. He says Western Bus Lines has a strong reputation with more than 35 years in service, and they've used them in the past.

The company has sent about half a dozen interpreters to different hospitals in order to help with translations, as many of the injured are from Southeast Asian countries and do not speak English as a first language.

The tour group was on their way back from the Canadian Rockies when the accident happened.

Super Vacation has still not received an official police report on the incident and were unable to comment on the cause of the crash or the condition of the driver.

UPDATE 10:30 A.M.

Merritt RCMP and the Central Interior Traffic Services are continuing their investigation into yesterday's bus crash.

It has been confirmed that there were several children on board the bus and that none of the children suffered any serious injury.

To date there have been no fatalities reported and the status of the other patients is still being determined.

CITS has confirmed that the road conditions were bare and dry as well as clear visibility at the time of the crash. A mechanical inspection is being done on the bus and the investigation into the cause of the accident is still ongoing.

Members on scene are crediting the quick response by BC ambulance services and emergency personnel as well as many doctors, nurses and first aid attendants on scene for the amazing care provided to all of the injured passengers.

A language barrier also proved to be detrimental to members on scene and many passersby were able to assist with the Cantonese and Mandarin languages being spoken.

Passengers are determined to have been from Canada, The US and China but numbers from each country have not been confirmed as yet.

The Mounties say a dashboard camera from a tractor-trailer captured a tour bus rollover that injured dozens of people on a B.C. highway and it appears speed is not a factor.

RCMP Sgt. Brian Nightingale says that leaves mechanical problems or human error as possible causes.

The bus, which was operated by a Chinese tour company, rolled over about 30 kilometres south of Merritt, B.C., on Thursday afternoon, sending 43 people to hospital.

Nightingale says a tractor-trailer was travelling behind the bus when the accident happened and police have reviewed the dash-cam footage.

He says tire marks show the bus drifted into the grassy centre median of the highway, and he says the bus apparently veered out of control as the driver tried to correct its course.

Fifty-six people were aboard and Interior Health says five are critically injured, 10 have serious injuries and 28 have been treated at its facilities for non-life-threatening injuries such as cuts and bruises.

-- With files from the Canadian Press


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