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

The concept design for the spray park and playground in Pogadl Park. (Photo Courtesy of Canadian Recreation Solutions)
Sylvan Lake spray park tentatively scheduled to open next year

Sylvan Lake Town Council approved the tender of the spray park and playground in Pogadl Park

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

One of the oil paintings stolen from a season home near the boat launch on Kuusamo Krest. (Photo Submitted)
Sylvan Lake RCMP search for paintings stolen from vacation home

Three original paintings were reportedly stolen from a seasonal home

A lone skater practises his shot on a melting outdoor rink recently. As of March 2, all outdoor skating rinks, including the ones on the lake, are closed for the season. (Photo Submitted by Town of Sylvan Lake)
All outdoor skating rinks in Sylvan Lake closed for the season

The Town announced Tuesday morning the rinks on the lake were also closed due to the warm weather

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

hands
The call is out in Rimbey to sign on with a group that is all about building connections

‘Already, we are building a network where we can rely on each other and help each other out’

FILE - Dolly Parton arrives at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Grammy-winning singer, actor and humanitarian posted a video on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, of her singing just before getting her COVID-19 vaccine shot. Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee for coronavirus research. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
‘Vaccine, vaccine’: Dolly sings ‘Jolene’ rewrite before shot

The Grammy-winning legend turned 75 this year

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland speaks about the Fiscal update during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID-19: Wage and rent subsidies, lockdown support to be extended until June

Chrystia Freeland says now is not time to lower levels of support

Many rural seniors are having to travel a long way to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Stettler residents are being told to go to Red Deer, Drumheller or Camrose. (Black Press file photo).
Rural central Alberta seniors have to travel far to get vaccines

Stettler residents are being directed to Red Deer, Drumheller or Camrose clinics

Samantha Sharpe, 25, was stabbed to death at Sunchild First Nation on Dec. 12, 2018. Chelsey Lagrelle was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for manslaughter in a Red Deer courtroom on Tuesday. Photo contributed
Central Alberta woman sentenced to 4 1/2 years for stabbing friend to death in 2018

Chelsey Lagrelle earlier pleaded guilty to stabbing Samantha Sharpe during argument

Calgary police say they received 80 hate crime complaints between January and November 2020. (Pixabay)
‘Racism is a real problem:’ Muslim women fearful following attacks in Edmonton

So far in 2021, three of seven hate-crime-related investigations have involved Somali-Muslim women

Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro speaks during a news conference in Calgary on May 29, 2020. Shandro says Alberta is considering whether to extend the time between COVID-19 vaccine shots to four months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta may follow B.C.’s lead on faster rollout of first COVID-19 dose

Tyler Shandro says a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision is coming

Most Read