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Crashed B.C. school bus was filled with grade 6s, 7s, superintendent says

A serious crash involving a school bus full of children and some adults on Highway 97 in B.C.’s Cariboo region Friday afternoon has resulted in dozens of injuries.

The death of a pedestrian soon after the crash in the same location is also being investigated.

School District 27 Superintendent Chris van der Mark told Global News on Saturday the students on the bus were in grades 6 and 7 from 100 Mile Elementary and Horse Lake Elementary schools.

“(Our) primary focus is the well-being of our students and staff. I am very, very happy to report that those that needed medical attention, (their injuries) were not as significant as it could have been,” he said.

The school group was returning from an overnight field trip at Gavin Lake when the bus went off the highway down an embankment. There were 31 students and four adults on the bus.

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According to B.C. Highway Patrol, the crash happened around 1 p.m. June 21 just north of Lac La Hache — about an hour north of 100 Mile House.

Video from the scene shows the front end of the bus crumpled with significant damage.

Cariboo Regional District Fire Chief Roger Hollander said when firefighters arrived at the scene, several students were outside of the bus.

Ropes, harnesses and other rescue equipment were used to transport the students and staff members up the embankment.

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The driver and one student had to be extricated from the bus.

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Shortly after the bus crash, Mounties said a pedestrian was struck in a separate collision nearby.

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Police said a vehicle struck a pedestrian who did not survive despite life-saving efforts.

Global News has reached out to the 100 Mile House RCMP detachment for more information on the fatality.

In all, 36 people were treated for injuries, with seven being airlifted to hospital and another seven taken by ambulance.

Neither the school district nor Interior Health has issued details regarding the nature of the injuries.

Global News spoke with other students in the 100 Mile House area on Saturday, who said some of those injured have multiple broken bones.

“Seeing the kids and families in the hospital, they are pretty happy, pretty relieved. Kids were remarkably in good spirits and they are resilient,” van der Mark said.

Hollander said a volunteer firefighter’s child was one of those injured in the crash and had to be airlifted. The volunteer firefighter was part of the emergency response and was united with the child at the scene before the airlift to hospital.

“One of our original district volunteer firefighters had his own child on that bus,” Hollander told Global News on Saturday.

“The child had some broken bones in his arm, some bruising to the lung and some other serious injuries. (The child) had to undergo minor surgery and is (now) doing well … expected to make a full recovery.”

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Van der Mark also said the bus driver is “responsive and in communication.”

A reunification area was set up at the South Caribou Arena in 100 Mile House by the school district for families to reunite with their children after the crash.

No information has been released about the cause of the crash.

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— with files from Simon Little

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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