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

Low interest rates have acted as a catalyst for the pandemic real estate market. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy)
Real estate sales surging across Greater Victoria but risks lie ahead

Single family home prices jump nine per cent over past year while condo values remain stable

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 from Vancouver to Victoria Feb. 28 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
COVID-19 exposure found on flight from Vancouver to Victoria

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 Feb. 28 affected

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds expected to get up to 70 km/h Friday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Wind warning promises blustery Friday for Greater Victoria

Winds up to 70 km/h expected Friday morning

Sidney staff have cleaned up unknown number of screws dumped along Resthaven Drive. (Black Press Media File)
Crews deal with a rock slide on the Malahat section of Highway 1 in 2017. (Black Press Media file photo)
Rock work closes Highway 1 in Langford for spurts

Friday closures could delay drivers up to 20 minutes

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

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 March 2

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

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read