Cause of fatal Christmas Eve bus crash still under investigation: BC RCMP | PKBNEWS

Mounted police are still in custody of the Ebus which crashed on Christmas Eve from the Okanagan Connector, killing four passengers and injuring dozens more.

The investigation into the fatal crash is active and ongoing, according to an RCMP news release Tuesday. BC Highway Patrol works with Ebus to return luggage and personal effects from the bus to passengers.

To date, investigators have determined that the bus veered off the road to the left, crossed the median and rolled onto the passenger side to come to rest in the eastbound lanes.

“Bystanders and local residents provided assistance by allowing passengers to warm up in their vehicles and providing blankets while emergency services arrived. All passengers were transported by BC Ambulance Service to local hospitals,” the RCMP said in the statement.

“The Ebus was fitted with seat belts, (but) unfortunately it appears that the majority of the passengers were not wearing them. The passengers were a mix of local, non-local and foreign nationals. This was a trip by regular commercial bus from Kelowna to Vancouver.

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Although there were conflicting accounts of the number of people on the bus and the number of people being treated at area hospitals, the RCMP was also able to offer a clearer picture of the victims of the accident.

At this time, investigators believe the bus was occupied by 45 passengers and the driver.

Four passengers died at the scene and 22 passengers are currently thought to have been transported to Kelowna Hospital, six to Penticton Hospital and 13 to Merritt Hospital. All four deceased were transported by the BC Coroners Service. No passengers were left at the scene.

The condition of the roads continues to be scrutinized after the accident.

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4 dead, several injured in BC bus crash on Christmas Eve: RCMP

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RCMP said they “were smooth going from clear wet roads to frozen with ice and snow on the road surface due to the time of day (sunset) and conditions changing weather”.

Rain and hail had just begun to fall.

Transport Minister Rob Fleming told a news conference on Tuesday that since a commercial vehicle was involved, the Department of Transport’s Commercial Vehicle Safety team is also investigating the crash.

“What we do know is that our maintenance contractors were away all day Saturday with seven pieces of equipment along the connector, plowing, sanding and salting the highway,” Fleming said.

“Winter conditions on Highway 97 seen Saturday were not unusual for late December or high mountain passes. And the nearby weather station reported light rainfall for most of the day in that area.

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He added that the road conditions observed at the crash site immediately after the incidents were within the specifications set by the ministry for winter road maintenance.

He said there were signs posting road condition updates and no other vehicle incidents were reported or observed on the connector that day.

Anyone who witnessed the collision and did not speak to investigators, or has dash cam footage from the Ebus before the collision, or was a passenger who has not been identified and contacted by the police, please contact Cpl. S. Audley by email at: [email protected]

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