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Audit shows company had issues prior to crash on Coquihalla

The results of the crash on August 28.
Image Credit: Adam Hopewell via Global News
November 07, 2014 - 4:30 PM

"SERIOUS FALSE STATEMENTS, DRIVING OVER DAILY AND CUMULATIVE HOURS NEED TO BE ADDRESSED"

KAMLOOPS – The company which owns the bus involved in August's multiple injury crash on the Coquihalla had a history of spotty record-keeping before the incident, according to a recently released government audit.

Tourists were travelling to Vancouver on a Western Bus Lines charter when it crashed on the side of the Coquihalla Highway roughly 30 kilometres south of Merritt Aug. 28, 2014. All 55 passengers were injured, some more seriously than others. Nineteen ambulances and six helicopters attended the scene while patients were transported to hospitals in Merritt, Kamloops and Kelowna.

It's still unknown what caused the accident on August 28 but an audit dated September 5 shows investigators found issues with overtime driving hours, incomplete paperwork and false documentation. The 88-page report contains correspondence from officials at the company, inspection of the bus following the crash and detailed reports on the company’s drivers. During their investigations between June 1 and August 31, officials determined administrative staff and drivers did not comply with National Safety Code regulations on record keeping.

There were no driving logs produced for nine days in July and 15 days in August. False submissions included improper documentation for off-duty hours. One code violation came from a submission a driver made which showed they were on duty for 14 hours, nine-and-a-half of which were spent driving. Driver fatigue is being considered as a potential cause of the crash.

Beyond personal documentation, the report shows drivers were not consistent in providing their employers with tickets and Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance inspection records within the 15-day time limit or, in some cases, at all. 

The audit shows poor record-keeping wasn't confined to drivers; Western Bus Lines did not obtain a driving abstract for all the drivers in its fleet.

Minister of Transportation Todd Stone said Wednesday he is waiting to read the RCMP investigation report before determining how to proceed.

The audit summarizes with several concluding remarks on issues found in the investigation. One states: “Serious false statements, driving over daily and cumulative hours need to be addressed and steps taken to ensure future occurrence are avoided. Form and manner issues can be dealt with in a less severe manner but need to be identified and corrected.”

In order to complete the audit, Western Bus Lines Director Raymond Therrien was presented with a sign-off sheet with an agreement to fix the issues discovered in the investigation by September 19. Therrien has not confirmed with InfoNews if the issues have been resolved; he has not provided comment. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at gbrothen@infonews.ca or call 250-319-7494. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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