August 29, 2014 - 5:51 AM
MERRITT - A rollover has injured 43 people on board a tour bus and shut down the Coquihalla Highway between Merritt and Hope Thursday afternoon.
Kelsie Carwithen of B.C. Ambulance Service says they got the call at 3 p.m. of an incident 30 kilometres south of Merritt involving a tour bus. They dispatched six air ambulances and 19 ground ambulances to the scene.
Interior Health has issued a code orange to bring in more staff and physicians to Royal Inland and Kelowna General hospitals. Ten of the passengers were taken to Kamloops, 22 were taken to Kelowna and the remainder were taken to Merritt. Interior Health says five remain in critical condition, ten are in serious condition and 28 have non life threatening injuries.
RCMP Sgt. Norm Flemming says six of the passengers are in critical condition and 15 have serious injuries, though there are no fatalities at this time.
He says the passengers were heading to the Vancouver area from the Okanagan.
A student driving by told Global News the windows were all broken on one side of the bus, adding a lot of people appeared injured and bleeding.
“We were seeing a big cloud of dirt, and it looked like the bus hit the meridian and tipped on the side, and it was upright with a whole bunch of scratches,” Adam Hopewell told Global. “There were people under the bus, it looked really bad.”
RCMP are describing the crash as a single-vehicle accident, with only the bus involved. The highway is closed as Air Ambulance helicopters land on the road.
Detours are currently available southbound by taking Highway 8 to Highway 1 and there is no estimated time of opening at this point. Drive B.C. is expected to provide another update at 6 p.m.
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— This story was updated at 4:31 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 with information from B.C. Ambulance Service.
— This story was updated at 4:53 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 with information from the RCMP.
— This story was updated at 4:57 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 with code orange locations.
— This story was updated at 5:27 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 with patient status updates from Interior Health.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014