August 01, 2015 - 9:01 AM
CHASE - One man was killed in a collision between a tour bus carrying dozens of people and a car on a notorious stretch of Highway 1 south of Chase say police and firefighters.
The RCMP said the accident happened about 4 p.m. Friday, at the start of a holiday long-weekend, and involved a bus carrying 57 people, including the driver. The passengers on the bus were tourists from Korea.
Lt. David Sakaki of Kamloops Fire Rescue said when he arrived on scene members of Chase Fire Rescue were already responding and a BC Ambulance helicopter had just landed.
"Unfortunately, there was one fatality," he said. "The driver of the vehicle, the lone driver of the vehicle was killed in the incident."
Chase RCMP Const. Brian Blaikie said that a small black car, identified as a Chevrolet Cavalier, was travelling westbound toward Kamloops when, for as yet unknown reasons, it veered into the oncoming lane and hit the private charter bus head-on.
He said first responders extracted the deceased man from the vehicle.
"The vehicle spun from the impact and the bus went off-road," said Blaikie.
Alyshia Higgins with the B.C. Ambulance Service said one air ambulance and six ground ambulances responded to the accident.
Michaela Swann, a spokeswoman for Interior Health authority, said the 57 people from the bus had arrived at Royal Inland Hospital, one in serious condition, 20 with non life-threatening injuries, and 36 who were not injured.
The RCMP said in a release issued early Saturday morning that it was the bus driver who had suffered the serious, but non life-threatening injury.
The RCMP's Central Interior Traffic Services and the BC Coroners Service are both investigating the cause of the collision. Police say alcohol is not considered a factor.
The crash, which is the third to involve a tour bus in B.C.'s Interior in a year, closed the highway for several hours before the wreckage was cleared and both lanes were reopened late Friday night.
The accident happened in the area known as Hoffman's Bluff, a two-lane stretch of road that the provincial government announced earlier this year would be upgraded to four lanes to improve safety through the area.
Rick Berrigan, mayor of Chase, said the stretch is a winding, rock-faced piece of the highway with no residents in the area.
"Hoffman's Bluff has always been a big concern to the travellers on Highway 1," he said.
The government is in the process of widening the highway.
Pictures of the scene appear to show the accident happened in an area that is being widened. The nose of the bus is off the side of the road and into the soft gravel being prepared for new asphalt.
Berrigan said that stretch of highway is extremely busy, especially during the summer.
"It's obviously a very tragic situation. We need that four laning done quick."
Blaikie said Hoffman's Bluff is a well-known location in Chase with a number of collisions every year.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015