The cause of a rollover on the glacier that killed three people and sent two dozen to hospital has not been determined, in a July 20, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The cause of a rollover on the glacier that killed three people and sent two dozen to hospital has not been determined, in a July 20, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Tour company already investigating glacier bus crash that killed three

27 people aboard during crash

COLUMBIA ICEFIELD, Alta. — The president of the company that runs the bus tours at the Columbia Icefield between Banff and Jasper said changes will be made, if necessary, after a rollover on the glacier killed three people and sent two dozen to hospital.

The cause of the accident hasn’t been determined. The off-road bus rolled off the road to the glacier Saturday afternoon and came to rest on a rocky slope, its six huge tires pointed up at the sky.

The RCMP, Occupational Health and Safety and the Transportation Safety Board spent Sunday milling about the vehicle, which slid about 50 metres down a steep embankment coming to rest near the glacier.

It’s unclear how soon it will be removed from its current location but an internal investigation is underway as well.

“We started right away to review what happened, what is our process with our protocol at every step and so we’re doing that internally but we are also working with the external teams to ensure that gets a fulsome review,” said Dave McKenna, the president of the Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit, which operates the tours and its fleet of 22 vehicles.

The RCMP said the cause of the accident still isn’t known and the snow coach, called an Ice Explorer, will receive a full mechanical inspection.

The red and white big-wheeled buses regularly take tourists up a rough rocky road onto the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park.

In all, 27 people were aboard when it crashed.

Alberta Heath Services said, of the 24 survivors, 14 had life-threatening head or pelvis injuries. Five others were in serious condition with broken bones and the remaining five suffered minor injuries.

McKenna said the Ice Explorers are offroad vehicles and seatbelts are not required. They aren’t allowed on highways and have a top speed of 40 kilometres an hour.

He said once the investigation is complete, Pursuit will implement any changes that might be part of recommendations for things like seatbelts.

“We will wait until the investigation is over and we will listen to all the recommendations and anything we’re required to do.”

Tours have been offered on the glacier since 1969 and the current type of Ice Explorers have been used since the early 1980s but are constantly upgraded.

“We average about 480,000 visitors a year and we’ve been operating these vehicles since the early 80s. We’ve had over 16 million passengers safely taken out on to the ice over all these years. No major incidents,” McKenna said.

“Over 39 years of course there’s a few bumps but nothing serious with fatalities or critical injuries.”

Angela Bye was on one of the coaches just before Saturday’s accident. She said she never worried about her safety.

“We were in the exact same vehicle, hours before. It’s like being in a school bus with really tall seats. The seats are way more padded than a school bus. They explained how it ran. How the wheels work,” she said.

“I felt very safe.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2020.

AlbertaTourism

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

Just Posted

Wetaskiwin Composite High School. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools prepare for transition back to online learning

Grades 7-12 will are mandated to transfer to online learning starting Nov. 30, 2020.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer
COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the City of Wetaskiwin

What the new provincial mandates mean for the County and City of Wetaskiwin.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the 500 deaths from COVID-19 in the province are a tragic milestone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta hits ‘tragic milestone’ with more COVID-19 deaths

Province up to 500 COVID-19 deaths, adds 1,265 cases

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council asks for a mask bylaw to be brought forward for consideration

The bylaw would require face coverings in all indoor Town-owned and operated facilities

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

People wear face masks as they pose next to a Christmas display in Montreal, Sunday, November 22, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
How to tell family their Christmas gathering is too risky and you’re not going

Dr. Hurst says it’s best to frame the conversation from a place of care, stressing safety precautions.

A sign instructs people to wear masks in downtown Calgary on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Pub and restaurant owners are trying to figure out how to comply with a stricter COVID-19 measure in Alberta that dictates only six people from the same household can sit at one table. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Brewpub owner pleased Alberta not closing sit-down dining as COVID-19 cases soar

Alberta’s caseload of COVID-19 infections has been growing for weeks

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at B.C. campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

A pedestrian wears masks while out walking in front of the Alberta Legislature as the COVID-19 numbers spike in Edmonton on Tuesday November 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Doctor says Alberta restrictions not enough to reduceCOVID-19 strain on hospitals

Mithani notes people are still allowed to gather indoors at large places of worship and in bars,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Most Read