August 29, 2014 - 11:51 AM
MERRITT – A total of 43 people were pulled out of the tour bus which rolled over on the Coquihalla Highway south of Merritt Thursday.
Darshan Lindsay with the Interior Health Authority says 10 patients were transported to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, 22 to Kelowna General Hospital in Kelowna and 11 to the Nicola Valley Hospital and Health Centre in Merritt.
Lindsay says 19 people have been treated and released including all 11 patients in Merritt.
There are 24 patients still in hospital, nine patients at Royal Inland and 15 at Kelowna General. Of those, seven are in critical condition, six in serious condition and 11 with non-life threatening injuries.
Twelve of the bus crash victims were taken to hospitals in Hope, New Westminster and Chilliwack. Interior Health says the 12 are in stable condition.
Meanwhile, the Mounties say a dashboard camera from a tractor-trailer captured the and it appears speed is not a factor.
RCMP Sgt. Brian Nightingale says that leaves mechanical problems or human error as possible causes.
Nightingale says a tractor-trailer was travelling behind the bus when the accident happened and police have reviewed the dash-cam footage.
He says tire marks show the bus drifted into the grassy centre median of the highway, and he says the bus apparently veered out of control as the driver tried to correct its course.
The Coquihalla between Merritt and Hope re-opened overnight.
Nick Kam, director of service for Super Vacation, a company based in Richmond, that identifies itself on its website as the "largest Chinese tour operator in North America," confirmed the bus was on a tour organized by his company.
"It's our tour, yes," Kam confirmed.
Kam said the bus was not owned by Super Vacation but was chartered through another company, which he didn't identify. He also said the other company provided the driver.
After Kam placed the call on hold, another man who did not identify himself picked up the phone and said the tour was returning from the Rocky Mountains and was on a leg between Kamloops and Vancouver.
When asked about the passengers' origins, the second man said they came from "everywhere."
Daniel Parsons was on his way home from work when he happened upon the scene. Police and ambulances were already there and two school buses had been brought in to help with the injured, he said.
"You could see the bus, it was right off the side of the highway and it looked like it had rolled over," Parsons said.
"There was just a pile of people all along the side of the bus receiving medical assistance and you could see some blood on the side of the bus. It was a pretty bad scene for sure. I haven't seen one like that."
He said the crash appeared to happen along a slight curve in the highway.
Super Vacation's website says the company was established in 1981 in Lost Angeles, Calif., by a woman named Helen Koo.
The company has 15 branches and operates an office in Richmond, B.C. It employs more than 300 staff and owns at least 30 deluxe tour coaches in Canada and the United States. It says it operates more than 150 monthly tours and serves more than 150,000 customers every year.
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- with files from The Canadian Press
— This story was updated at 11:21 p.m., Friday, Aug. 29, 2014 to add a video.
— This story was updated at 11:51 a.m., Friday, Aug. 29, 2014 to add new information from IH.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014