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One dead in bus crash

UPDATE: 6 a.m.

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 B.C. 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 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 B.C. 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.

The accident happened in the area known as Hoffman's Bluff, a two-lane stretch of road the provincial government announced earlier this year would be upgraded to four lanes to improve safety.

Rick Berrigan, mayor of Chase, said the stretch is a winding, rock-faced strip of 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 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.


UPDATE: 10 p.m. 

The vehicle incident 11 km west of Chase is now clear, in both directions. 


UPDATE: 9:20 p.m. 

Highway 1 is reduced to single lane alternating traffic. Expect delays do to congestion.


UPDATE 7:15 p.m.

One man now is confirmed dead in the collision between a passenger bus carrying dozens of people and a car on a notorious stretch of Highway 1 south of Chase, say police and firefighters.

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 travelling westbound toward Kamloops went into the oncoming lane and hit a private charter bus head-on.

He said first responders are working to extract the deceased man from the vehicle.

"The vehicle spun from the impact and the bus went off-road," said Blaikie.

He said the cause of the crash is not yet known.

Alyshia Higgins with the B.C. Ambulance Service said three people were in serious condition and 20 patients with non-life-threatening injuries were rushed to Royal Inland Hospital.

One air ambulance and six ground ambulances responded, she said.

Michaela Swann, a spokeswoman for Interior Health authority, said they expected as many as 57 people to the hospital, whose injuries range from serious to minor.

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, but Berrigan didn't know if the crash was in the same spot as the construction.

Berrigan said the 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."

-The Canadian Press


UPDATE: 6:50 p.m.

DriveBC is recommending a detour around Highway 1, which remains closed, via Highway 97 to Highway 97A.

An assessment is in progress although there is no estimated time of reopening the road.


UPDATE: 6 p.m.

A passenger bus carrying dozens of people has been involved in a crash on Highway 1 south of Chase.

The accident between the bus and a car happened about 4 p.m. Friday, at the start of a holiday long-weekend.

Alyshia Higgins with the B.C. Ambulance Service says there are 60 patients, with one in critical condition, and six ambulances and one air ambulance are responding to the scene.

A spokeswoman for Interior Health, Michaela Swann, says Royal Inland Hospital is on alert to receive patients but they haven't initiated what they call a "code orange" yet.

The crash, which is the third to involve a tour bus in B.C.'s Interior in a year, has closed the highway in both directions.

The accident is reported to have 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.

                                                                    – The Canadian Press


UPDATE: 5:25 p.m.

A spokeswoman with the B.C. Ambulance service says first responders are dealing with 60 patients at the scene of a tour bus crash near Chase.

One person is in critical condition.

Witnesses say a medevac helicopter landed at the scene.

Six ambulances and one air ambulance have responded or are en route to the crash scene.

The Ministry of Transportation says the highway is closed in both directions.

– The Canadian Press


ORIGINAL

The Trans Canada Highway is closed in both directions about 11 kilometres west of Chase, DriveBC reports.

A Castanet reader tells us a tour bus crash is the cause of the closure.

"There has been a serious bus accident between Pritchard and Shuswap Lake. Our son and his family are 20 cars back, and there is a bus across the road. Ambulances and police cars are there," said the source.

Unconfirmed reports have up to 55 people injured in the incident.

No further details are available at this time.

It's not known when the highway will reopen.

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