A rolled-over tour bus rests where it fell on the Columbia Icefield near Jasper, Alta., Sunday, July 19, 2020. A class-action lawsuit alleging the defendants acted recklessly and unreasonably has been filed against the operators of a tour bus involved in a fatal rollover at Jasper National Park’s Columbia Icefield. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

A rolled-over tour bus rests where it fell on the Columbia Icefield near Jasper, Alta., Sunday, July 19, 2020. A class-action lawsuit alleging the defendants acted recklessly and unreasonably has been filed against the operators of a tour bus involved in a fatal rollover at Jasper National Park’s Columbia Icefield. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of passengers in fatal Alberta Icefield bus crash

Three people were killed and 14 others suffered life-threatening injuries on July 18

A class-action lawsuit alleging the defendants acted recklessly and unreasonably has been filed against the operators of a tour bus involved in a fatal rollover at Jasper National Park’s Columbia Icefield.

Three people were killed and 14 others suffered life-threatening injuries on July 18 when the red-and-white, all-terrain Ice Explorer lost control while carrying passengers on the road to the Athabasca Glacier.

The bus rolled about 50 metres down a moraine embankment before coming to rest on its roof. The bus was carrying 27 people.

Named in the statement of claim filed in Calgary are Brewster Travel Canada Inc., Viad Corp, Glacier Park Inc., Brewster Inc., Brewster Tours, Banff-Jasper Collection Holding Corp. and the unidentified driver of the coach.

“The defendants knew or ought to have known that there was a significant risk to the plaintiff and class members and that the accident was a reasonably foreseeable result of failing to take adequate measures to prevent such incidents,” reads the claim.

“The accident was caused solely by the negligence, gross negligence, or intent of the defendants.”

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

READ MORE: Glacier sightseeing bus rolls in the Alberta Rockies killing 3 and injuring others

A spokeswoman for Pursuit, the company that runs the Columbia Icefield tours, said it couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

“We continue to actively support a transparent and multi-agency investigation into the cause of this tragic accident. The results of this investigation, once completed, will be shared with the public,” Tanya Otis said in an email.

The lead plaintiff is Devon Ernest, 22, from North Battleford, Sask., who was on the tour with his girlfriend, Dionne Durocher of Canoe Narrows, Sask., and his cousin Winnie Ernest.

Durocher died at the scene.

“I’m not doing so good. I’m just trying to hold on,” Ernest told The Canadian Press.

He suffered a concussion, a fractured wrist and lacerations to his head and hands.

“Someone was at fault. Someone or something could have been changed,” Ernest said.

“I don’t know how this happened.”

Ernest said the driver gave limited safety instructions before the bus took off. He said she pointed out the rear exit and how to open windows.

Rick Mallett, a litigation lawyer with James H. Brown and Associates in Edmonton, said in an interview, that the accident should never have happened.

“It’s such a tragic outcome for the people that were there for a fun time, especially during this whole COVID situation,” Mallett said.

“It went so terribly wrong, so we took a look at it right away.”

The class action, which so far includes 10 of the 27 people on the bus, must be approved by a judge if it is to go ahead.

It notes there were no seatbelts on the coach and alleges the driver appears to have lost control when going down a steep incline.

“The operator of the tour bus, the defendant Jane Doe, attempted to brake, but was unable to reduce the speed of the tour bus. The tour bus lost traction with the road. The front right tires then approached the embankment and then went over the embankment,” reads the statement of claim.

RAED MORE: No cause yet for bus crash that killed three near glacier

“The tour bus went over the side of the embankment and rolled over four to six times, with at least two rotations occurring in the air, before coming to a stop on its roof.”

The statement alleges the defendants failed to enact protective measures to prevent the accident.

“The defendants acted recklessly and unreasonably in failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that the tour bus and road were properly maintained, the operator of the tour bus was qualified and taking proper precaution and due care when operating the tour bus, and that the tour bus itself was properly maintained and in suitable mechanical condition.”

Mallett said the RCMP have checked out the bus at a secure location and his law firm will have a mechanic and an accident reconstructionist look at it.

“Was there driver error? What about the mechanical issues? What about the general design of the tour itself and the embankment the tour bus went over?” he said.

The Columbia Icefield is one of the largest non-polar icefields in the world. It spills down from the mountains about 100 kilometres south of Jasper.

Otis said in her email that the buses would not operate for the rest of the 2020 season.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Alberta

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

Just Posted

Lauren Marchand and her daughter at the head of Okanagan Lake in Syilx territory, where they often go to gather, play and be in ceremony. Photo by Kelsie Kilawna
‘I don’t feel safe’: RCMP, social worker searched Syilx mother’s home without her knowledge

RCMP searched the home looking for a meth lab, that was never found inside the residence

Tom Smithwick has written a new book, Knocking On Freedom’s Door, about his experiences advocating for a drug addiction treatment program in Kelowna. (File photo)
‘Knocking On Freedom’s Door’: A retired Kelowna lawyer’s insights to mental illness, addiction

Freedom’s Doors advocate Tom Smithwick shares what he has learned from experiences of treatment program clients in new book

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

Reddit: u/KittyLitterBiscuit
Glenmore closures remain in place following fire

A compromised crane at a construction site is causing issues

Passengers make their way through Montreal–Trudeau International Airport in Montreal, Saturday, December 19, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Dining indoors at YLW’s White Spot allowed despite public health orders

Airport post-security restaurants and BC Ferries cafeterias are exempt from the public health order

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Vernon Secondary School. (Google Maps)
Case of COVID-19 at North Okanagan high school

VSS exposure announced late Friday, April 9

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

The Royal’s 1951 visit to Revelstoke. (Photo by Revelstoke Museum and Archives #17)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip visited Revelstoke – twice

The prince died April 9 at the age of 99

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nolan's Pharmasave in downtown Vernon received 200 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines Friday, April 9, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
AstraZeneca vaccines arrive at Vernon pharmacies

Four pharmacies in the city received doses of the COVID-19 inoculant Friday

The RCMP were called to the Alchemy Studio on Thursday, April 8. (Contributed)
Revelstoke yoga class fined for defying COVID-19 orders

The RCMP were called to the Alchemy Studio on April 8

An East Hill resident had their leaf bags torched in front of their home overnight April 8. Less than two weeks prior their garbage can was lit on fire too. (Taryn Allen photo)
Garbage, leaf fires spark fear in North Okanagan

First an East Hill residents’ trash can, then bagged leaves were lit on fire

Most Read