A passenger bus involved in an accident along a logging road Friday night is carried from the crash scene by a tow-truck near Bamfield, B.C. on Saturday, September 14, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

A passenger bus involved in an accident along a logging road Friday night is carried from the crash scene by a tow-truck near Bamfield, B.C. on Saturday, September 14, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

University of Victoria changes Bamfield field trip protocol after fatal crash

Two students died after the bus slid off the road in September 2019

Following a fatal bus crash last September, the University of Victoria is changing its course on field trips to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre (BMSC) after the release of an independent investigation into the crash.

On Sept. 13, 2019, John Geerdes and Emma Machado, both 18, died after a chartered bus carrying 45 UVic students and two teaching assistants, slid off the side of the road and down an incline landing on its roof.

The bus was mid-way between Port Alberni and Bamfield when the crash happened.

Ross Cloutier, an expert in outdoor-related risk management with Bhudak Consultants Ltd., was hired to review university policies, pre-trip information and the planning process. Cloutier interviewed students, parents, university employees and visited the site of the crash and the Bamfield facility. All surviving students and their parents or guardians were given the opportunity to speak or correspond with Cloutier, who also travelled to Manitoba and Iowa to meet with the families of the deceased students.

RELATED: Several factors led to deadly bus crash on Bamfield Road: RCMP report

The review notes a “series of what seemed to be non-related and low-consequence events can combine to form a much larger and catastrophic event,” according to a UVic press release.

The report highlights a number of influences on the crash that led to the deadly outcome such as the group’s late departure from Victoria, along with road construction delays and the length of stops for dinner and sightseeing along the drive. The narrowing of the road at the accident site, the soft road shoulder from recent road grading, the misjudgment of the road width, two vehicles meeting at the narrow point of the road, bright headlights that restricted the bus driver’s visions and an attempt by both vehicles to go through the narrow point at the same time were also contributing factors.

RELATED: Teacher honoured for action in fatal Bamfield bus crash

Any future UVic bus trips to Bamfield will now have a hazard assessment and control program, travel and arrive during daylight hours, pre-determine itineraries, use an additional satellite communication device, have enough first aid equipment for the groups’ size and the appropriate staff on board to enforce protocols such as adhering to the itinerary and wearing of seat belts.

UVic will also work with the BMSC, which is co-owned by five western Canadian universities, to explore alternative ideas that would benefit other users of the road such as a pilot car service, an information hub for travelers with road and other information, along with the use of VHF radio for vehicle to vehicle communication.

BMSC is closed to school trips until April 2021 due to COVID-19, but UVic will not use buses for field trips to the site until the pertinent recommendations are in place. The university also agrees with the review’s finding that using the MV Frances Barkley ferry service from Port Alberni to Bamfield may be useful for some field schools.

The condition and suitability of the logging road as an essential corridor between Bamfield and Port Alberni continues to be a concern. UVic, along with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations and the BMSC are advocating for the provincial government to improve the road conditions, which parents and students have identified as an important priority.

To read the full report visit tinyurl.com/y6vacge7.


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BamfieldUniversity of Victoria

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

Just Posted

A family of ducks that lives near Saanich Municipal Hall recently welcomed 11 ducklings and took them for a swim in the koi pond outside the offices. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Pair of ducks make Saanich Municipal Hall a nursery for 11 hatchlings

Family of ducks spent time in koi pond before heading down to Swan Lake

Habitat Acquisition Trust has received provincial funding to help restore Garry oak ecosystems on southern Vancouver Island. (Photo by Jeremy da Silva)
Central Saanich park among sites for local Garry oak restoration projects

Habitat Acquisition Trust received $140,000 in funding for 12 projects

Architect’s rendering of the 7 Erskine Lane development, showing the view from the east and south. (VDA Architecture Ltd. image)
View Royal green-lights residential development on Erskine Lane

First of two developments near Victoria General Hospital will provide 71 housing units

Andrew Swanson was arrested Wednesday after he was wanted for an alleged choking assault and for obstructing police. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police arrest Andrew Swanson on warrants for alleged choking assault, obstruction

A member of the public spotted Swanson and called 911 before police came and made the arrest

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,500 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you plan to travel on the Victoria Day long weekend?

It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues,… Continue reading

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Most Read