Cabot Trail fatal crash raises questions about cell service

The fatal bus crash on Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail is raising new concerns about poor cell phone service in the remote area.

Remote parts of the trail have spotty coverage

An RCMP officer examines the coach Tuesday. One woman died when the vehicle crashed on Sunday. (Hal Higgins/CBC)

The fatal bus crash on Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail is raising new concerns about poor cell phone service in the remote area.

The bus left a straight section of road on the Cabot Trail, between Neils Harbour and Ingonish, N.S., at about 2.30 p.m. Sunday and rolled into a ditch.

It's not clear what caused the bus to crash but RCMP Cpl. Alain LeBlanc said there was nothing mechanically wrong with the bus.

Joyce Bower, 70, of Lancaster County in Pennsylvania died as a result of her injuries. Two other people were seriously injured. A total of eight passengers remain in hospital with non life-threatening injuries, say RCMP.

The bus left the road at a place near Neils Harbour that Victoria County Coun. Johnny Buchannan calls a dead zone .

“It’s on a long hill. It's a dead spot there, for about a kilometre you lose your service when you come around the hospital there. You get to the top of the hill and that's where the bus went off the road,” he said.

Buchannan says the lack of reception is especially a concern for tourists

“Tourists who travel, I mean they do their work on the road with their computers, their laptop, their iPhones and towards Bay St. Lawrence, Meat Cove — that's one of the greatest sceneries too. It might turn them away where they have no service,” said Buchannan.

Bell Mobility has posted a notice of its intention to develop a telecommunications site in the area.

Buchannan says Pam Eyking, the MLA for the area, has just updated local council on the situation .

He says Eyking is awaiting word from the federal government on a cost-share arrangement with the province and the company .