Partner of Sask. woman who died in Alta. icefield crash calls for increased bus safety
Dionne Jocelyn Durocher died in the tour bus incident which also killed 2 others
Devon Ray Ernest remembers Dionne Jocelyn Durocher as a loving person, a caregiver and someone who loved her family more than she loved herself.
Durocher, a 24-year-old woman from North Battleford and a member of the Canoe Lake Cree First Nation, was one of three people killed in a weekend tour bus rolled on the Columbia Icefield between Jasper and Banff, Alta.
A 28-year-old Edmonton woman and a 58-year-old Indian man also died. Twenty-four others were injured.
"The last thing I remember is falling onto the roof," Ernest said, guessing the bus rolled multiple times. "I wasn't awake. When I woke up, I seen my girlfriend laying right beside me. She was barely breathing."
Ernest and Durocher were visiting the area along with Ernest's cousin when the rollover happened on what was supposed to be the last day of their three-day trip. He spoke to CBC while still in hospital on Monday.
Ernest said it feels like his heart hurts. He said he isn't sure how he is going to go back home without Durocher and see her clothes and belongings there.
Durocher had been planning to go back to school and had expressed interest in social work in the past, Ernest said.
Now, he says he wants increased safety measures for buses like seatbelts. He believes Durocher would be alive had there been seatbelts in the tour bus.
"Put seatbelts on that God damned thing. Lives are more important than sightseeing," he said. "I need something to change right away."
In the aftermath of the crash, he searched for his cousin through the wreckage. Once he located his cousin and checked up on her, he ran back to his girlfriend. He noticed foam leaking from her nose.
"I knew she was about to die. She was looking at me," he said. "I just laid there with her for the next half hour until paramedics came got me."
Ernest said he was screaming Durocher's name the entire time, that it was going to be OK and help was on the way. He said when he saw the full extent of Durocher's injuries, he knew she wasn't going to make it through the incident.
"I felt f--ked up. I just kept telling her 'I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Dionne. I love you. I'm sorry for bringing you here.' That's all I said," Ernest said.
Durocher had never been to the mountains. Ernest said the trip was part of his 23rd birthday celebrations. He and Durocher had been together two years.
With files from Alex Soloducha