July 21st, 2024

No charges to be laid in Manitoba bus crash that killed 17 seniors heading to casino

By The Canadian Press on June 26, 2024.

A scorched patch of ground where a bus carrying seniors ended up after colliding with a transport truck and burning is seen on the edge of the Trans-Canada Highway where it intersects with Hwy 5, west of Winnipeg near Carberry, Man., Friday, June 16, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

WINNIPEG – Police will not be laying charges in a bus crash that killed 17 seniors in western Manitoba.

RCMP say they do not expect to be able to talk to the bus driver, who suffered a traumatic brain injury.

And they say officers have found no explanation as to why he pulled into an intersection when it wasn’t safe.

The bus, carrying seniors to a casino, collided with a semi-trailer while crossing the Trans-Canada Highway near the town of Carberry last June.

Mounties have said the truck, which was travelling east on the highway, had the right of way and attempted to avoid the crash.

Police handed over their findings in January to the Crown’s office, including forensic reports and interviews with witnesses and survivors.

“One witness on the bus said that the bus driver was on his cellphone prior to the collision,” Crown attorney Chris Vanderhooft told a news conference Wednesday.

“RCMP investigators obtained search warrants for the phone and determined the phone was not in use at the time of the collision.”

He said it’s likely that a blind spot prevented the bus driver from seeing the truck. The bus didn’t brake or speed up to avoid the crash.

The Crown considered dangerous driving charges. But Vanderhooft said prosecutors wouldn’t be able to prove a moment of inattention was a marked departure from the standard of care of a reasonable driver in the circumstances.

“Momentary inattention does not constitute dangerous driving,” he said.

The bus driver isn’t able to care for himself, Vanderhooft added. “He is not in a position to make his own decision regarding his personal care or finances, and his condition is unlikely to improve.”

A memorial for those who died was unveiled earlier this month in Dauphin, where most of the victims were from.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2024.

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