Manitoba premier willing to call experts to investigate highway crash

by The Canadian Press

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson says the province will bring in experts if necessary as part of a review to ensure safety at an intersection where 15 seniors were killed in a crash.

Stefanson says the government will make the appropriate checks, but for now is letting the police investigation unfold.

“We don’t want to rush through this,” Stefanson told a news conference in Winnipeg on Monday.

“There are still investigations going on right now. We’ll respect that process. But you know, an internal review is always taken.

“Because of the severity (of the crash), I think it’s important that we are willing to go beyond that, bring in experts where needed to ensure safety of people travelling on our roadways is the most important issue.”

Manitoba flag
(Illustration: istock)

RCMP continued to investigate Thursday’s crash on the Trans-Canada Highway between a tractor-trailer and a minibus taking seniors on a day trip to a casino at Carberry, 170 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

Dashcam footage

Ten remained in hospital, but the condition has improved of one of the six people in critical care.

Mounties said they have yet to speak to the bus driver as he is still receiving care in hospital.

“We will be speaking to him when the time is right,” said RCMP Supt. Rob Lasson.

Police have said dashcam footage shows the bus was crossing the Trans-Canada Highway when it went into the path of the truck. But mechanical inspections and other checks are needed before investigators can determine exactly what happened.

Lasson said the mechanical inspections would take weeks and the investigation was moving slower than usual, given that many of the witnesses were still in hospital.

“All the witnesses were in the bus, and a lot of them are in trauma right now,” Lasson said.

“So we have to rely on forensic investigations, mechanical analysis of the vehicle and things like that. And that’s why it’s taking so long.”

Lasson said the autopsies began Monday. The medical examiner has said identification will take time and may require using dental records or fingerprints as many of the victims received severe facial trauma.

Clear weather conditions

Weather conditions were clear at the time of the crash. There was also a stop sign at the intersection with a yield sign in the median between the opposite lanes.

The driver of the truck was earlier released from hospital. Of the 25 people on the bus, 19 were women. They all ranged in ages from 58 to 88.

The seniors were on a trip to the Sand Hills Casino near Carberry. The outing was organized by the Dauphin Active Living Centre, a seniors activity centre 190 kilometres to the north in Dauphin.

Dauphin city council was expected to meet later Monday to determine if and how any type of vigil or community gathering for the victims might take place. 

Mayor David Bosiak said support workers and grief support dogs have been visiting the city’s seniors villages, where there are “pockets of deep sorrow.” 

But, he added, the older age of many of those affected means there’s a certain a stoicism or need to experience the trauma privately. 

“There is a sombre mood in the community generally, just a quietness,” Bosiak said.

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  • As a 15 year Class 1 driver. Having much mountain experience and cross border driving thru out N.A. requiring the need to realize the stopping distance with a full load increases substantially.
    It is imperative that the brakes are adjusted and maintained at an adjustment to fulfill the full load stopping distance to a minimum . On a regular maintenance schedule.
    Watching daily the Class 3 drivers in the city of my residence, it is very common to witness bus drivers driving over the posted speed limit thru my residential areas.
    I suspect that the driver of the bus may not taken into consideration a. full load stopping distance b. speed approaching the STOP SIGN. With a full load and inadequate stopping ability, passed the STOP SIGN into the on coming traffic causing the accident.