Two University of Victoria students have been killed and three others were taken to hospital in critical or serious condition after a bus rolled over between Bamfield and Port Alberni on Friday night.
The university's administration was informed last night that two students died and several were injured as a result of the crash. The bus was travelling to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, on the west coast of the Island. The university is not naming the students.
Jamie Cassels, president of the University of Victoria, said the university is deeply saddened.
“Our heartfelt thoughts go out to the students’ families and loved ones, to whom we offer our sincerest condolences,” Cassels said an emailed statement. "We also thinking of those injured in the crash.”
The university is offering counselling and other support to the students and others in the university community who might be affected, he said.
The bus rolled over on a gravel road near the Carmanah Main Junction on Bamfield Main, and went down a 20-foot embankment.
Capt. David Berneau of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria said they were contacted about 10 p.m. to assist with the rescue.
"There were two deceased on scene and three airlifted to Victoria General Hospital," he said. "There were lots of other folks with minor injuries and they were transported to Port Alberni Hospital."
Burneau said there were about 40 people on the bus, all of them believed to be adults.
Andrea Visscher of B.C. Emergency Health Services, said three people in critical or serious condition were taken to Port Alberni Hospital. They were flown out “in the early morning” to Victoria General Hospital, she said.
The Port Alberni Fire Department said it was a “tough” night.
“Unfortunately two passengers perished on-scene,” said Port Alberni Fire Department. “Our thoughts are with the family and friends affected."
The cause of the crash is under investigation by the RCMP.
Port Alberni Fire said any family members looking for additional information can contact the RCMP dispatch at 250-723-2424.
The City of Port Alberni has opened a reception centre at the Echo Centre for all of those who were not injured but involved in the crash.
Students who need support on the weekend can contact UVic’s campus security services at 250-721-7599 for counselling services. Faculty and staff in need of support can contact the employee and family assistance program at 844-880-9142.