3 who died in Columbia Icefield bus crash were from Alberta, Saskatchewan and India
Dionne Jocelyn Durocher identified as Saskatchewan victim
Two women in their 20s, one from Alberta, one from Saskatchewan, and a man in his 50s from India, have been identified as the people killed Saturday when a tour bus rolled on the Columbia Icefield between Jasper and Banff, Alta., RCMP said Monday.
Jasper RCMP said the victims were a 28-year-old woman from Edmonton, a 24-year-old woman from Canoe Narrows, Sask., and a 58-year-old man from India. They said next of kin have been notified and the names of the victims will not be released.
There were 27 people on the bus, according to an RCMP statement. Of those injured in the crash, the statement said four remained in critical but stable condition and one was in serious but stable condition as of late Sunday.
CBC News confirmed on Monday that Dionne Jocelyn Durocher was the woman from Saskatchewan who died, after speaking to Durocher's boyfriend, Devon Ernest.
Durocher lived in North Battleford, but was originally from Canoe Lake. She was on vacation with Ernest and on their last day of travelling when the crash happened.
The cause of the rollover is still unknown, RCMP said, adding that a collision reconstructionist has confirmed there is no evidence that a rock slide caused it. They said the bus, called an Ice Explorer, will receive a full mechanical inspection.
The red and white big-wheeled buses regularly take tourists up a rough, rocky road onto the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park.
The bus rolled off the road to the glacier Saturday afternoon, slid about 50 metres down a steep embankment and came to rest near the glacier on a rocky slope, its six huge tires pointed up at the sky.
The RCMP said they were trying to remove the Ice Explorer from where it landed, but that it may take several days due to the challenging terrain, and efforts to protect the physical integrity of the vehicle so it can be examined as part of the investigation.
"The area of the crash is very steep, very dangerous for the responders, for the crews that are coming in to remove it," said RCMP Cpl. Deanna Fontaine.
"It's caused the necessity to create a new road in to have it safely extracted in a manner that would not damage it, as well. And it's a large vehicle. So like any large vehicle, it requires large equipment to remove."
WATCH | Witnesses describe helping victims in tour bus rollover:
Dave McKenna, president of the Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit, the company that runs the bus tours and maintains the fleet of 22 vehicles, said they were co-operating with authorities and that an internal investigation is also underway.
McKenna said the Ice Explorers are off-road vehicles and seatbelts are not required. The vehicles aren't allowed on highways and have a top speed of 40 kilometres an hour.
He said once the investigation is complete, Pursuit will implement any changes that might be part of recommendations for things like seatbelts.
"We will listen to all the recommendations and anything we're required to do."
Nicolas Bertrand, a tourist who visits the icefield often from Calgary, said the tour itself is amazing and the terrain particularly steep, even compared to other tours he's been on. Bertrand said the tour bus drivers are keen to make it comfortable for everyone on the bus, but that seatbelts might be needed on this tour.
"I guess I didn't really think about it at the time, just because it did feel safe to me when I was on there," Bertrand said. "But I do understand that maybe they would be a necessity going forward or maybe on these types of tours."
Tours have been offered on the glacier since 1969 and the current type of Ice Explorers have been used since the early 1980s, but are constantly upgraded, according to McKenna.
"We average about 480,000 visitors a year and we've been operating these vehicles since the early '80s," he said. "We've had over 16 million passengers safely taken out onto the ice over all these years. No major incidents.
"Over 39 years of course there's a few bumps but nothing serious with fatalities or critical injuries."
Angela Bye was on one of the coaches just before the rollover Saturday. She said she never worried about her safety.
"We were in the exact same vehicle, hours before. It's like being in a school bus with really tall seats. The seats are way more padded than a school bus. They explained how it ran. How the wheels work," she said.
"I felt very safe."
Prankur Gaur, a second-year nursing student at MacEwan University, was on the icefield as part of a separate tour when the crash happened.
Tourists on his bus were asked if anyone had first aid training, and Gaur along with three other people made their way to the crash site to provide assistance, talking to the victims and applying bandages.
"There was a lot of injuries, there was a lot of blood. People were screaming, the bus was totalled — there was glass everywhere," Gaur said.
There were a lot of head injuries and some spinal injuries among the victims, Gaur said. He added he was impressed how well he and the other first responders worked together on the site with no authority before the RCMP arrived roughly 45 minutes after the crash occurred.
Gaur said he was focused in the moment, and the intensity of what he'd seen didn't hit him until he was back home, when it all finally felt real.
"There was moments of silence and nothing, and my mind was clear. But there was intense moments where I was crying," Gaur said.
With files from The Canadian Press