Family of Regina bus accident victim sues city

The family of a woman who died following an accident involving a Regina Transit bus just over a year ago is now suing the city.

Alleges faulty brakes played a role in accident

Barbara Supynuk, who was waiting at a bus stop, died of her injuries after a bus crashed and a sign fell on her.

The family of a woman who died following an accident involving a Regina Transit bus just over a year ago is now suing the city.

On Feb. 15, 2013, Barbara Supynuk was waiting at a bus stop downtown when a bus lost control and hit a sign which struck her on the head. She died from her injuries on March 25.

Supynuk's family is blaming the city of Regina for her death.

"They lost their mother, their daughter," Tim Stodalka, the family's lawyer, told CBC News. "This was a family that was very, very close and unfortunately, as a result of the actions of the city of Regina in failing to maintain its bus properly, resulted in her death."

Coroner's investigation flags brake problems

According to a coroner's report released in December, SGI inspected the brakes of the bus following the accident and found that "all four brake drums were worn beyond the maximum permissible limit, which could impact the overall braking ability."

Coroner Maureen Stinnen also noted that from Jan. 1, 2013 to Feb. 17, 2013, bus drivers filed 11 defect reports raising concerns about the same bus, five of which were for braking issues. 

She concluded that the brakes played a role in the accident.

The family of Barbara Supynuk has launched a lawsuit against the City of Regina over the woman's death at a bus stop. (Courtesy: Supynuk family)

"The road evidence showed significant unusual skid marks specific to the left rear brake," Stinnen wrote in her report. "It indicated the rear left brake was not operational which would have caused the bus to veer to the right and leave the roadway."

Stodalka said, on reviewing that report, that "It's our opinion that there's little doubt that the city of Regina is negligent in failing to properly repair the brakes."

This appears to contradict what Deputy City Manager Brent Sjoberg told CBC in September. 

"The brakes were not the cause or a contributing factor to the accident," he said then.

The city of Regina is declining to comment on the matter because it is now before the courts, but Sjoberg has said "our sympathies go out to the family."

The Regina Police Service also investigated the accident and did not charge the driver. However police found the city did "fail to maintain a brake system with mechanical components that are secure, functional or not excessively worn or misaligned," which is a violation of the Vehicle Equipment Regulations Act. As a result the city was fined $770, which it voluntarily paid.

Stodalka argues that by paying that fine the city of Regina admitted guilt. 

"So with all due respect to the city if they weren't guilty of anything why did they enter a guilty plea to the fine?" he said.

Family wants to send a message to city

Stodalka said that for Supynuk's family, the woman's death has been "a life changing event in every sense of the word. They still have tears in their eyes when you meet them and talk about what happened." 

The family's statement of claim notes that Supynuk lived with her mother and father and her son and they "were dependent upon her for her financial contribution and her homemaking services."

Stodalka expects the city to settle out of court before this case ever gets to trial. 

However, he said the family also wants to impress on the city the importance of maintaining its bus fleet. 

"They also want the city of Regina to recognize that they have to remedy the problems that have personally affected them," he said.

About the Author

Geoff Leo

Senior Investigative Journalist

Geoff Leo has been a reporter for CBC News in Saskatchewan since 2001. His work as an investigative journalist and documentary producer has earned numerous national and regional awards.