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Fatal collision involving bus on Highway 63, RCMP investigating 'driver error'
Linda Hoang, CTV Edmonton
Published Thursday, January 3, 2013 5:26AM MST
Last Updated Thursday, January 3, 2013 7:26PM MST
A man from northern Alberta is dead and several others injured after a crash involving a Red Arrow bus on Highway 63 Wednesday night.
Boyle RCMP say the crash occurred just after 7 p.m. Wednesday, on Highway 63 approximately 20 kilometres north of Boyle.
Police say an SUV travelling southbound collided with a northbound passenger bus, sending both vehicles into the ditch.
The driver of the SUV, a man in his 40s from northern Alberta, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Red Arrow bus had departed from Edmonton and was headed to Fort McMurray.
Five people who were on bus, including the driver, were taken to Boyle and Athabasca Hospitals for treatment of minor injuries.
Golshan Crewe was one of 36 passengers on the bus when it crashed.
“There was this jarring impact and then all of the lights went out on the bus,” Crewe said in a phone interview with CTV News. “There was a lot of screaming.”
RCMP Cst. Dan Fenton tells CTV News it appears the driver of the SUV swerved and crossed the centre line into the path of the bus.
Police say road conditions were not a factor in the crash – but other factors have not been ruled out.
“As of yet, alcohol has not been ruled out as a contributing factor,” Fenton said. “We’ll await the results from the Medical Examiner before we discuss that any further.”
RCMP are investigating driver error and Fenton says it was the quick thinking and smart driving from the bus driver, that helped ensure there were no further injuries.
"It could have very well been a lot worse had the bus tipped, had the bus rolled, had the driver of the bus not reacted properly when that condition posed itself to him. It could have been very serious," Fenton said.
John Stepovy, general manager with Red Arrow, tells CTV News that safety personnel were sent to the crash scene and another bus was dispatched there to transfer passengers and luggage on to Fort McMurray.
"By the time everything got sorted out, our coach transported the passengers to Fort McMurray. I think they got in at about 3 a.m. in the morning," Stepovy said.
The bus was full, but no one - including the driver - suffered major injuries.
All five people who were treated in hospital have since been released.
Stepovy said the bus driver had been with the company for "some time" and this is the driver's first collision with Red Arrow.
"It's a tough highway and our operators go through the most extensive training, we feel, in the industry," Stepovy said.
"We have a training centre here and we have a coach simulator and we put our drivers through different scenarios."
He extended his condolences to the family of the victim, whose identity has not yet been released.
Traffic in the area was diverted for several hours while the investigation and clean up took place. The road has since reopened.
Boyle is located approximately 146 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
With files from Laura Tupper and Veronica Jubinville