Search and rescue crews and RCMP helped a tow-truck crew to remove the bus from the ditch on Sept. 14. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

Bus crash survivor petitions Justin Trudeau to fix road where classmates died

UVic student’s petition well over halfway to 5k signature goal

A student from the University of Victoria who survived the mid-Island bus crash on Friday night is asking the government to fix the road where the rollover occurred.

Sarah Hunter started a petition to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on change.org asking for something to be done to improve the 85-kilometre logging road between Port Alberni and Bamfield.

Hunter remembers the bus teetering and passengers screaming as the vehicle fell onto its side on the Carmanah Main Junction gravel road and slid 20 feet down the embankment just after 10 p.m. on Sept. 13. Of the 48 passengers, 17 were taken to hospital. Two 18-year-old first year biology students, Emma Machado and John Geerdes, were killed.

READ ALSO: UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

As of Wednesday morning, more than 3,250 people had signed Hunter’s petition. The road conditions have long been a concern for folks who use the route regularly and it’s frequently used to take students to the Bamfield Marine Science Centre for research trips.

The Huu-ay-aht First Nation have been pushing various levels of government to improve the road for years. In a statement released on Sept. 14, Chief Coun. Robert Dennis Sr. commended the first responders and to the City of Port Alberni for the quick action taken after the crash. He also noted that the incident highlights the need for safety improvements.

“Safety on this road is one of our primary concerns as a Nation,” said Dennis Sr. who was at the scene helping after the crash. “Too many lives have already been lost.”

Hunter noted that the bus driver was experienced, but that their skills were no match for the darkness, rain and poor road conditions. She believes the lack of action taken by the government is what led to the fatal incident.

“[This] dangerous road is used a primary route of transportation to bus large numbers of teenagers and young adults with all the known associated risk factors, and no one seems to care enough to do anything,” says Hunter.

She hopes the community will join forces to push the provincial and federal governments to fix the road to guarantee safety.

“It was only a matter of time before something like this happened, and I hope that everyone feels strongly enough to spark change so that it may never happen again.”

The RCMP and Transport Canada are investigating the cause of the incident and it’s important to allow that process happen.

READ ALSO: POLL: Should the province step in to upgrade the road to Bamfield?

In a statement, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said the issue is complex because the road is not owned by the province, and was designed and built for industrial use.

“Bamfield Main road is a private industrial road operated and maintained by private companies for active forestry operations,” a ministry representative said.

“Government has previously met with the Huu-ay-aht First Nation on several occasions to discuss their proposals for potential modifications to the road. Government will continue to discuss this with the Huu-ay-aht First Nation and other stakeholders.”


@devonscarlett
devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

car crashUniversity of VictoriaUVic

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

Just Posted

Timeline pushed back for Tofino-Ucluelet highway construction project

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel said the ministry’s announcement came as “no surprise.”

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District adopts 2020 budget in closed-door meeting

The plan shows an overall tax increase of 6.64 percent, applied differently in each electoral area

3-D printer provides PPE for West Coast General Hospital

City of Port Alberni purchases 3-D printers to help with pandemic

Nanaimo, Royal Jubilee to be Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 frontline hospitals

Other Island hospitals will be admitting COVID-19 patients and will be used in a support role

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

Comox spring training cancelled for Snowbirds next month

The team announced that due to ongoing travel restrictions they will not be training in the Valley

Some Cowichan schools to reopen for children of essential-services workers

Cowichan Valley will open 8 elementary schools this week

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

Physiotherapists turn to technology to reach patients during COVID-19

Just because services, jobs, and socializing have been put on hold, it… Continue reading

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Most Read