WARNING: This story contains graphic details. Discretion is advised.
It was supposed to be a trip for family visiting from India to see the beauty of the Canadian Rockies, but it turned to tragedy.
Vinay Patel was on the bus that crashed on the Columbia Icefield with a group of 11 friends and family members on Saturday.
The crash killed three and injured 24.
Patel, an Edmonton man, is recovering at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. His wife is recovering in the hospital in Grand Prairie.
Patel recalled the all-terrain tour bus picking up speed before it rolled.
“The vehicle lost the traction, for sure. The initial two flips happened in the air, and after that, it was grounded and there were three more flips so around four to five flips if I remember correctly,” Patel said Tuesday.
“My ribs were broken so as the time was passing, I started feeling more pain but right after the incident, I was in shock.”
He can’t shake the image of seeing one of his best friends who was critically injured.
“The minute I got out of the bus, I saw a friend of mine and his skin was peeled off. You could literally see his skull. All I could do at that point in time is just put the skin back and ask him to not move much. There were a lot of cuts and bruises on his face,” Patel said
Patel’s friend’s wife was killed. He said she had graduated from nursing in India and moved to Edmonton nearly two years ago.
Another couple was visiting from India to see their new granddaughter.
The 58-year-old man from India died and his wife was injured. Patel said it’s incredible that the baby, who he spotted under the bus, survived in a small gap.
“I saw the grandchild literally under the bus but there was a little space for her to hide down there and she survived really well, and I am so glad to see that she is still with us,” Patel said.
“She was very close to being injured. In fact, very close to death, actually, but she survived. It’s luck for all of us who survived the incident. It was really terrible there.”
Patel said the group that was on the bus was like family to each other because they don’t have a lot of family in Canada. He said they will have to be strong for each other now.
“As an immigrant, you go through a lot of stuff anyway. To start a life again and again. I am always there for them just to reach out to them and say, ‘I am there for you.’ We will take care of each other together,” Patel said.
Patel said he is thankful for the efforts of all the first responders who were at the scene of the crash and for all the medical staff at the hospitals.