RCMP in Alberta say there are reports that multiple people are injured after a bus, similar to the vehicle pictured, rolled over on a highway that runs between Jasper and Banff National Parks. Responders attend to a rolled-over icefield touring bus in Jasper National Park, Alta., in a handout photo taken Saturday, July 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Randy Cusack

RCMP in Alberta say there are reports that multiple people are injured after a bus, similar to the vehicle pictured, rolled over on a highway that runs between Jasper and Banff National Parks. Responders attend to a rolled-over icefield touring bus in Jasper National Park, Alta., in a handout photo taken Saturday, July 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Randy Cusack

Glacier sightseeing bus rolls in the Alberta Rockies killing 3 and injuring others

Cpl. Leigh Drinkwater said there were 27 people on the bus when it crashed

Three people were killed and more than a dozen others were critically injured when a glacier sightseeing bus rolled at one of the most popular attractions in the Rocky Mountains, the Columbia Icefield.

RCMP said the rollover happened early Saturday afternoon. Pictures posted online by people at the scene showed one of the attraction’s big-wheeled ice explorers on its roof down a moraine embankment.

The iconic red and white coaches, which look like buses with monster-truck tires, regularly leave from a visitor centre and take tourists up a rough road onto the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park.

Police did not say what caused the wreck, but Rob Kanty, who was on an earlier bus and witnessed the crash, said he believes a rockslide may have played a role.

“We watched the event unfold from the parking lot,” he wrote in an email. “We could see the dust and rocks still sliding down the mountain towards the tour bus already rolled over on its roof.”

Cpl. Leigh Drinkwater said there were 27 people on the bus when it crashed.

Air ambulances were sent from all over the province to ferry the injured from the picturesque but remote location.

Alberta Heath Services said 24 patients were transported to hospitals in Edmonton, Grande Prairie and Calgary, 14 of them with life-threatening injuries. AHS said four others were in serious but stable condition while the remaining six were listed as stable.

Police said all of the dead were adults, but they did not release any names or ages.

Drinkwater said getting updates from the scene was difficult due to unreliable cellular service in the remote part of the mountains.

RCMP said that members from the Jasper detachment, with help from Lake Louise and Banff, were on the scene as well as crews from numerous fire departments and Parks Canada.

The injured were transported from the site by rescue helicopters then taken to hospitals by air and ground ambulances.

AHS said EMS crews from Calgary, Jasper, Nordegg, Banff, Rocky Mountain House, Canmore, Hinton, Edmonton and Sundre responded to the incident.

Fixed wing air ambulances from Slave Lake, Lac La Biche and Edmonton, along with two STARS helicopters, and a chartered helicopter out of Canmore, were also on scene.

STARS air ambulance spokeswoman Fatima Khawaja said the choppers brought a 31-year-old man and a “middle-aged” woman to hospitals in critical, potentially life-threatening condition.

She said a 27-year-old woman was taken to hospital in serious but stable condition.

Khawaja said a doctor was also sent to the scene, and was on board a private chopper that helped perform “sling rescues off the icefield.”

She said STARS sent choppers from its bases in Edmonton, Calgary and Grande Prairie.

Tanya Otis, a spokeswoman for Pursuit, the company that runs the tours, said the ice explorer was on its way to the glacier when it crashed.

“Our immediate concern is with the injured and their families and we are supporting the efforts of first responders,” she said in a statement.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney tweeted about the crash, thanking emergency crews for their quick response.

“Saddened to hear of this accident in the Icefields,” Kenney said. ”Prayers for all involved in the incident.”

The Columbia Icefield is one of the largest non-polar icefields in the world. It is located about 100 kilometres south of Jasper and accessed from Highway 93 North, the Icefields Parkway.

The parkway leads from Jasper down to Lake Louise through Banff and Jasper national parks and is one of the most picturesque drives in Canada.

Pursuit offers a Columbia Icefield Adventure, which it bills as a must-do experience for any resident or visitor in the Canadian Rockies.

The tour has guests board an ice explorer to drive onto the Athabasca Glacier, where guests can get off the bus to walk on the glacier and fill their water bottles with the pure, cold runoff.

The company reopened the icefield tours about a month ago with 50 per cent capacity after being closed due to COVID-19.

When full, Pursuit says the ice explorers can transport up to 56 passengers, including seated and standing room.

Most of Canada’s national parks, including Banff and Jasper, reopened to visitors in early June.

The mountain parks are typically flooded with international visitors at this time of year but, with the pandemic squelching travel, officials have encouraged all Canadians to explore their national parks this summer while respecting provincial rules.

Some of the more popular sites in the two national parks have been getting busier in recent weeks.

— By Rob Drinkwater and Colette Derworiz in Edmonton, Nicole Thompson in Toronto, Bill Graveland in Calgary and Camille Bains in Vancouver.

The Canadian Press

RCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rendering of the proposed residential and commercial building on the existing site of the Northern Junk buildings at 1314 and 1318 Wharf St. Victoria council sitting as committee of the whole voted May 6 to send the project to public hearing. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Proposal for underutilized Victoria harbourfront site heading to public hearing

Northern Junk buildings would be incorporated into design of new structure

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

(Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police use bean bag round in arrest

Man arrested for assault with weapon, uttering threats

Test positivity rates in Greater Victoria from April 23 to 29. (BC CDC data)
Leaked data shows View Royal top of COVID-19 list for Greater Victoria

View Royal mayor says week was a blip for the township, not the norm

A member of the Downtown Victoria Business Association Clean Team works along Fort Street. The team will be working weekends from May through September, providing seven day a week coverage. (Photo courtesy DVBA)
Downtown Victoria cleanup service expanded for spring, summer

Clean Team members to patrol sidewalks seven days a week through September

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in Comox

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

Alberni Valley Bulldogs forward comes away with the puck after a battle along the boards with Grizzlies defenceman Jake Veilleux. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
BCHL: Victoria Grizzlies named Island Champions

Grizzlies edged Alberni Valley Bulldogs in back-to-back matches to claim title

Most Read