Nearly two dozen people riding a bus from White Rock were sent to hospital Sunday evening, after a crash south of the Oak Street Bridge in Richmond.
The Coast Mount Bus was a 351 travelling its route along Highway 99 to Bridgeport Station.
Police say they believe a light-coloured minivan – which had been traveling in the slow northbound lane – cut off the bus around 9:20 p.m., causing the driver to swerve out of the bus lane, down a steep grass embankment, onto an onramp. It then swerved back toward the highway, before smashing into a cement barrier.
Police announced Monday afternoon that the driver of the bus has been charged with speeding and failing to wear a seatbelt. Charged is Laurence Douglas Brand, 48, of Delta.
Deas Island Traffic Service Cpl. Aaron Sproule said evidence from the scene and information from witnesses obtained indicate the minivan made an abrupt lane change, causing the bus driver to take evasive action.
“This is a classic example demonstrating what can happen when drivers fail to pay attention to their speed, their driving, and to what’s going on around them,” Sproule said. “The results can be catastrophic, especially when travelling at highway speeds.”
Police are now seeking information from other witnesses in the hope of tracking down the minivan and its driver.
TransLink spokesperson Drew Snider noted that when a bus approaches in the bus lane, a series of lights begin to flash, warning those using the on-ramp.
As far as TransLink’s aware, this is the first crash of this kind at the newly configured on-ramp since it was added about a year ago, he said.
B.C. Ambulance Service superintendent Pascal Rodier said the response to the crash was excellent.
A Coast Mountain bus was brought to the scene, and after the victims were triaged, 16 people suffering from minor scrapes and bruises were loaded aboard and transported to Richmond Hospital, he said.
Four others with more serious injuries were transported by ambulance to Vancouver General Hospital.
Rodier said he didn’t have details on the extent of the injuries, but according to police, they were all considered minor.
Rodier said this event put into action the city’s multi-casualty response plan.
Richmond Hospital was given plenty of advance warning to expect multiple casualties, who were brought to the scene by a bus that was parked directly outside the emergency department, he said.
The vast majority of the injuries were less serious, involving bumps, scrapes and bruises, he said.
Anyone with information about the minivan is asked to call the Deas Island RCMP detachment at 604-946-2184.