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Alberta company launches internal investigation into collision with school bus near Smoky Lake

Smoky Lake residents gather to support each other after school bus crash
WATCH ABOVE: One day after a serious school bus crash in central Alberta, residents of Smoky Lake came together to support each other in the wake of the incident on Tuesday night. Sarah Komadina reports.

The ownership of Sign Solutions says it’s launching its own internal investigation into what led to a crash with a school bus just west of Smoky Lake, Alta. on Monday morning.

The Bonnyville, Alta. company had two employees in the picker truck at the time of the collision: a driver and a passenger.

The passenger was treated by EMS on scene and released. They were the only person of the 17 involved in the collision who did not require treatment at a health centre or hospital.

READ MORE: Alberta school bus crash leaves 5 people in critical condition

The driver was transported to the Redwater Health Centre with minor injuries. They were released late Monday afternoon and are at home recovering, according to their boss.

The ownership of Sign Solutions tells Global News the picker truck was on its way to Nisku at the time and was westbound on Highway 28 when it collided with the school bus at the intersection with Range Road 180.

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The bus was carrying 14 students between the ages of six and 16, as well as a driver. Five of the children were transported to Edmonton in critical condition; three of them had to be flown by STARS air ambulance.

Another student and the bus driver suffered serious injuries and were transported via ground ambulance to Edmonton. One additional child went to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in stable condition.

Smoky Lake prepares to host vigil after bus crash
Smoky Lake prepares to host vigil after bus crash

According to the RCMP, as of 9 a.m. Tuesday, all of the victims were alive. Alberta Health Services has said it “would be in breach of patient privacy if we provided any information” regarding patient condition updates.

Several students transported to Edmonton hospital after Smoky Lake bus crash
Several students transported to Edmonton hospital after Smoky Lake bus crash

RCMP say their initial investigation revealed the school bus stopped at a stop sign as it approached Highway 28, but then proceeded into the intersection before being hit by the picker truck. Investigators say the conditions were clear at the time of the crash and no charges are currently pending.

A GoFundMe was also launched late Monday for the victims.

Shelby Henry, who grew up in Smoky Lake, organized the GoFundMe and said she has been in contact with the principal of H.A. Kostash School to determine which families need financial assistance.

“Obviously the tragedy that happened was terrible and unexpected and a lot of these families are going to have to be taking time off work, staying in the city. The Stollery hospital is about an hour and a half away from Smoky Lake and so you can imagine the expenses that come along with that, with either hotel fees, travel expenses, meals.

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School bus crash near Smoky Lake sends several to hospital
School bus crash near Smoky Lake sends several to hospital

“For some of these kids, it’s going to be a long road to recovery and anything we can do as a community to support them through that is the goal of the GoFundMe,” Henry said.

“I want to do what I can to support these people that I know and love.”

Vigil for school bus crash victims in Smoky Lake, Alta.
Vigil for school bus crash victims in Smoky Lake, Alta.

The logistics of who will receive the money have yet to be determined, Henry said. As of 12:30 p.m. Tuesday it had raised $4,000.

“It’s absolutely incredible. It’s very humbling,” she explained. “There’s really no words to express how grateful these families are going to be.”

Global 1: RCMP on scene of collision involving school bus near Smoky Lake, Alta.
Global 1: RCMP on scene of collision involving school bus near Smoky Lake, Alta.