Selkirk College says it is providing counselling for students and staff after a 19-year-old woman from Quebec died following a crash on Highway 3A between a Purolator van and a BC Transit bus.
RCMP Insp. Chad Badry says the accident happened at Tarrys just after 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. The bus was eastbound when it was sideswiped by the oncoming van.
Sixteen students visiting from Quebec as part of a Selkirk College program were on board. A woman who was sitting next to the window where the van struck the bus was critically injured.
Badry says her classmates performed live-saving first aid that allowed her to be transferred to hospital in Trail and then Kelowna, where she was on life support until her death today. Her name has not been released.
The Purolator driver was not injured and remained at the scene, Badry says.
He adds they are not certain why the crash happened, but impaired driving has been ruled out. He says while they have interviewed a number of witnesses, they are looking for the drivers of three vehicles following the courier, who were seen on video taken from the bus.
One was a blue two-door coupe, another a newer silver SUV, and the last one an older grey Pathfinder. Badry says they are asking the drivers or any other witnesses who have not yet spoken to them to call 250-354-5180.
The road was closed until 11 p.m., although a lengthy detour was available.
“Our hearts go out to the students’ family and friends, to whom we offer our most sincere condolences,” Selkirk College president Maggie Matear said in a prepared statement.
“The college community grieves with the other students in the program, our faculty and staff who were just getting to know the student, and all those who are feeling this tremendous loss.”
A total of 19 students and staff, primarily from the Explore Program, were on the bus, the college said. All other students and staff were taken to Kootenay Lake Hospital to be assessed and were released the same evening.
Selkirk College staff and community members have since been providing trauma support, counselling and tending to the needs of all those involved, the statement said.
The college said the Explore Program is an intensive five-week applied language program. Nineteen students from Quebec arrived in the region in late June to immerse themselves in English. Forty English language program students who arrived at the start of this month will also take part in the program, which is part of a broader language and cultural exchange based out of Nelson.
In a prepared statement, Premier John Horgan says he is “deeply saddened” to learn of the tragedy.
“We are in contact with the Government of Quebec to offer any assistance necessary to ensure families can be with their loved ones,” he said.
“I want to thank emergency and health personnel who responded to this incident, ensuring those affected get the care and support they need.”
He added that he hoped the investigation into the crash would prevent similar incidents.
Correction: Police previously said the woman who died was 18.