British Columbia

Student survivor of deadly Bamfield bus crash recalls passengers' screams

AJ Wasserman saw headlights, felt the bus swerve, and then heard "the scariest scream I have ever heard."

AJ Wasserman said 'the scariest scream I have ever heard' rang out as the bus tipped

This Wilson's Transporation bus was hauled away from the crash site on Saturday. Two UVic students were killed when the bus rolled into a ravine on its way to Bamfield on Friday night. (Dean Stoltz/CHEK News)

One of the 48 people aboard the bus that crashed into a ravine Friday night on its way to Bamfield said the vehicle filled with screams as it began to tip.

The bus had been travelling along a gravel road when it ended up in a ravine on its side, killing two people on board and injuring others.

AJ Wasserman, one of the 45 UVic students aboard the bus for a field trip to the marine science centre, spoke to journalists Sunday over social media.

The undergraduate student was in the back of the bus when it happened.

"I saw headlights and felt us swerve to avoid them," Wasserman wrote. "Thought we were just going to move back but then instead we just started tipping and everything just started happening in slow motion."

'The scariest scream I have ever heard'

Wasserman felt the bus sliding and then heard screams.

"The scariest scream I have ever heard."

Wasserman was on the side of the bus that ended up on the ground and said most people tumbled to that side as the bus came to a stop.

A shoe lies in the ravine where a coach bus crashed on Friday on the road from Port Alberni to Bamfield. (Chris Corday/CBC)

Wasserman estimated that two people were wearing seatbelts and recalls seeing them hanging in the air as the bus lay on its side.

Chief Councillor Robert Dennis, with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, came across the crash site about 30 minutes after it happened.

Dennis said the bus was on its side and nearly 10 metres down an embankment when he arrived. He said students were pulling themselves up to the road with a rope. 

When firefighters arrived they continued to help get passengers out of the bus.

The 48 people aboard the bus included two teaching assistants and the driver.

Potholes are common along the Bamfield Main, which leads to Bamfield, B.C. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

The gravel road from Port Alberni to Bamfield can be perilous, but Wasserman said the bus didn't seem to be travelling much faster than 40 km/h.

Wasserman also said that the bus left Victoria late due to traffic. The cause of the crash is under investigation by Transport Canada and the RCMP.

The University of Victoria opened counselling services for students seeking help on Sunday.

With files from CHEK News, Maryse Zeidler and the Canadian Press