Columbia Icefield tours resume after deadly crash, seatbelts installed in all Ice Explorer vehicles
EDMONTON -- Tours of the Columbia Icefield have resumed nearly a year after a tragic accident last summer killed three people and injured two dozen others.
There are now seatbelts in all the six-wheel Ice Explorer buses that take visitors directly onto the Columbia Icefield.
Last July, one of the tour buses lost control and rolled down the mountainside, ending up on its roof.
The Columbia Icefield is located about 100 kilometres south of Jasper, Alta. and is one of the largest non-polar icefields in the world.
Tours began on Friday and are scheduled to run throughout the summer season.
The website for tours made no mention of the accident, but noted there is a “safety promise” to ensure guests can “travel with confidence” from COVID-19 transmission.
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Pursuit, the company that owns and operates the tours at both the Columbia Icefield and the Skywalk above Sunwapta Valley, told CTV News Edmonton that new safety changes to the Ice Explorer fleet of buses includes seat belts, a new road maintenance and conditions management system, and new additional driver training.
Tanya Otis, a communications manager for Pursuit, said in an emailed statement that the company has undergone an internal review.
“The incident at the Columbia Icefield last July was tragic and we continue to extend our deepest condolences to everyone involved,” Otis said.
“We engaged a team of internal and external experts to identify any additional safety measures to add to our current operation.”
According to Otis, the review included all elements of the tour bus operation from fleet management to road maintenance, and driver training.
She added that all recommendations the review identified have been implemented.
“We have implemented additional measures to our current safety and training programs that adhere to and exceed current industry best practices,” Otis said in the statement.
The RCMP continue to investigate the July 2020 crash. A final report is scheduled to be released this spring. Mounties say they will not comment on the accident or the investigation until the final report is completed.
- Analysis report completed in Columbia Icefields crash, no details being released
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A class-action lawsuit has since been filed against a number of parties including the tour company and the unidentified driver of the bus.