RCMP say icy road conditions played a role in a tour bus crash in Banff on Tuesday that sent 24 people to hospital.
RCMP and EMS responded to a bus rollover at Compound Road, just off the Trans-Canada Highway east of the Mount Norquay exit, after 7:15 p.m.
Police said the bus was heading east, lost control and ended up in the south ditch.
The bus was carrying 24 people, including the driver and guide, according to RCMP.
EMS initially said there were 10 people injured but that was later updated to 13.
Those 13 people were taken to hospital as a precaution: one to Calgary and the others to Canmore and Banff, according to EMS.
EMS said all others on the bus were taken by a private vehicle to area hospitals for assessments.
No one sustained serious injuries.
While police said icy road conditions were a contributing factor, the collision’s cause is still under investigation.
Several first responders from the Banff area rushed to the scene, which Banff fire chief Silvio Adamo said was “like a skating rink” when crews in two fire trucks and two command vehicles arrived.
He said the bus had rolled and landed back on its wheels down an embankment against the wildlife fence. Crews initially secured the scene and slowed traffic before assessing the bus and passengers inside with EMS.
“ people all over the place obviously trying to get out of the vehicle, lots of snow, very slippery out there. So it was very difficult so we used firefighters to sort of create a path and shovel down a path to the vehicle and we started to assist occupants of that van up that small embankment and we started to place them in our large apparatus to keep them warm and safe,” Adamo said.
Adamo said most of the patients were able to get out on their own, but first responders did have to help a number of them get out of the bus and up the hill.
“Firefighters ended up spinal immobilizing two of the occupants in the vehicle and then brought them up on a backboard in what we call a stoke stretcher with ropes to secure their safety to get them up onto the shoulder of the road where we then transferred them over to EMS and onto their stretchers,” he said, adding that was done mostly as a precaution.
“The mechanism of injury with a rollover of a bus like that, some folks were wearing their seatbelts and some weren’t from what we understand, and the nature of some of the minor injuries would indicate for us to take those types of precautions and make sure that we immobilize their spines and not cause any further damage.”
Adamo said the crash could have been a lot worse, resulting in more serious injuries.
“There are a lot of circumstances there that where the bus ended up landing back on its wheels was definitely a plus,” he said. “They missed a couple of very large trees that could have changed the nature of injuries in this crash.”
A man who identified himself to Global News as the safety manager of Eur Tours, the company that owns the bus, said all but one of the passengers on the bus had been released from hospital.
He said the driver reported losing control of the bus in icy conditions.
The manager said Eur Tours would be reimbursing patrons for their hospital expenses and arranging hotels for those who needed them. He also said most of the passengers wanted to keep their itinerary for Thursday.
RCMP reminded drivers to travel with caution in the area due to “poor visibility, icy roads and blowing snow.”
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