The BC Highway Patrol has released more details regarding the E-bus in which four people died.
The BC Highway Patrol and Merritt RCMP were advised of the single-vehicle collision at around 6:14 p.m. on December 24th near Loon Lake East of Merritt.
According to the BC Highway Patrol, the bus was traveling west along Highway 97C from Kelowna towards Merritt, on a regularly scheduled commercial bus trip from Kelowna to Vancouver, when it encountered adverse road conditions.
The bus reportedly went off-road left, crossed the median, and flipped onto its passenger side coming to rest in the eastbound lanes.
Passers-by and local residents provided assistance by allowing passengers to warm up in their vehicles and provided blankets while emergency services arrived.
At this time, investigators believe 45 passengers were on board, plus the driver, and that 22 passengers were taken to Kelowna Hospital, six to the Penticton Hospital, and 13 to Merritt Hospital.
The four deceased were transported by the BC Coroners Service.
Police say the bus was equipped with seat belts, but the majority of passengers were not wearing them.
The BC Highway Patrol said the road conditions were fluid, transitioning from clear wet roads to frozen with ice and snow on the road surface due to the time of day and changing weather conditions, and that rain and hail was falling.
The matter is still under active investigation, and the E-bus remains in police custody pending the investigation.
“Since a commercial vehicle was involved, my Ministry’s Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement Team is also conducting a post-crash investigation,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming.
“I know how important it is for people to get the answers they need, and we will conduct thorough investigations to get those answers.”
Fleming added that road maintenance crews were out on the Highway plowing, salting, and sanding throughout the day.
The BC Highway Patrol is working with E-bus to return luggage and personal effects from the bus to the passengers.