KELOWNA, B.C. – The last two weeks have been quite a journey for 56 passengers who were on a tour bus that crashed August 28th on the Coquihalla Highway south of Merritt.
Many have faced an extended stay far from home, recovering from broken bones and surgery to repair open wounds.
It’s also given them much time to think about the events leading up to the accident.
Some victims wonder if the driver fell asleep at the wheel.
“Since I was the one who sit behind the driver, I feel I know that the driver was very tired,” says Cambodian travel agent Jacky Sarim in broken English.
Global Okanagan News also spoke with a victim who remains at Kelowna General Hospital recovering from facial, arm and chest wounds.
The Toronto woman says she was concerned the driver spent too much time behind the wheel and wonders if it’s better to have two drivers dividing the responsibilities for safety.
The B.C. Ministry of Transportation says, “A driver working for a tour bus company must not drive after the driver has accumulated 13 hours of driving time in a day.”
But a lawyer for the victims says it’s irresponsible for a bus driver to get behind the wheel for any length of time if they are fatigued.
“If there’s legislation that says that a bus driver can drive up to 13 hours, that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean that they should in every circumstance,” says Kelowna lawyer Sean Pihl. “A bus driver is a professional who’s doing a job and they have to meet a certain standard of care to all the users on the roadway. So if they’re impaired by fatigue or unable to drive despite the fact that they haven’t driven for 13 hours, then they can be held negligent for causing an accident.”
Western Bus Lines declined comment Wednesday.
RCMP have yet to lay blame in the crash, but have told Global Okanagan News the accident is being attributed to a non-cognizant action, suggesting it was something the driver didn’t do knowingly. They say it will be another few weeks before their final report on the crash is complete.