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School bus driver charged after serious 2019 crash near Smoky Lake

A bus driver has been charged in a collision last December north of Edmonton, that left 16 people in need of medical treatment at a health centre or hospital.

The crash happened the morning of Dec. 2, 2019, at the controlled intersection of Highway 28 and Range Road 180 near the community of Smoky Lake.

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

RCMP said the school bus was heading north on the range road and the picker truck was heading west on the highway when the collision happened.

RCMP investigate a crash between a school bus and a picker truck on Highway 28 near Smoky Lake, Alta., Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. Dean Twardzik, Global News

At the time, a spokesperson for Alberta RCMP said early indications were that road conditions were “clear” at the time of the crash.

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According to Cpl. Ron Bumbry, the preliminary investigation suggested the school bus was driving, stopped at a stop sign and then tried to cross when it collided with the truck.

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

The bus was taking 14 students to H.A. Kostash School, a K-12 school located in Smoky Lake.

Five of the students were taken to an Edmonton hospital in critical condition — two of which were flown by STARS air ambulance — and several others injured in the crash were taken to the Smoky Lake hospital.

Emergency vehicles sit outside George McDougall healthcare centre in Smoky Lake, Alta. Monday, Dec. 2, 2019 following a crash involving a school bus near the town. Sarah Ryan, Global News

The driver of the picker truck was also taken to hospital with minor injuries, according to police. A passenger in the picker truck was not injured.

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In total, Alberta Health Services said 16 patients were assessed by EMS or in hospital.

READ MORE: Boy injured in Smoky Lake bus crash set to be released from Stollery soon: ‘The real scary part is over’

After an extensive investigation and assistance from collision analysts and consulting with Crown prosecutors, Bumbry announced on Tuesday the RCMP has charged the 66-year-old bus driver with careless driving under the Traffic Safety Act.

RCMP did not release the driver’s name. Global News sent a request to police asking why.

The bus driver is scheduled to appear at Fort Saskatchewan Provincial Court on Aug. 6. RCMP said no further updates are anticipated as the matter is now before the courts.

The intersection where the crash happened is about five kilometres west of the town of Smoky Lake, which is about 115 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.

READ MORE: Alberta school bus crash brings up question of seatbelts again

— With files from Caley Ramsay and Phil Heidenreich, Global News