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Bus crash strands passengers

A group of travelers heading to Kelowna got more than they bargained for Friday night when their bus was forced to swerve away from oncoming traffic and ended up in the ditch.

The incident happened north of Princeton on Highway 5A, near Allison Lake. No one was injured in the crash, but it was a long wait for help because the accident occurred in an area without cell service.

“It was nothing too serious, but we were stuck on the highway for hours,” says 18-year-old Rowen Siemens, a passenger on the bus.

“A semi truck slid into our lane and the bus driver had to swerve out of the way. Nobody got hurt because our driver did a rock star job of saving us all.”

She says the bus ended up in the ditch, laying partially on its side. The door to the passenger side door of the bus was unable to open, meaning everyone was stuck inside until help arrived.

To make matter worse, Siemens says there was so much demand in Vancouver (where the bus originated) that Greyhound split the passengers onto two buses. Unfortunately, the charter bus she was traveling on was not a Greyhound bus and was not equipped with a radio.

“This other charter, it wasn’t a Greyhound bus, and just our luck it didn’t have a radio or anything on it,” explained Siemens.

“(The driver) said he had no way of contacting anyone. So he basically just sat there and waited for someone to drive by, and then that person drove ahead until they had service and called 911.”

When emergency personnel finally arrived two hours later they had to cut out the windows and build a ramp for passengers to get out.

“They had to saw off the front of the bus. There was no way of getting out, we were completely stuck. We weren’t in any imminent danger, but we couldn’t get out.”

Everyone was then transferred to different bus, but due to another accident further up the highway, they were again delayed.

Siemens says when they finally arrived in Kelowna around 11 p.m. Friday night, they were nearly six hours late and without any way to contact family members, it was an emotional reunion for many of the passengers.

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