No criminal charges to be laid in fatal Columbia Icefield tour bus crash in Jasper National Park

More than two years after three people were killed in a tour bus rollover in Jasper National Park, the RCMP has concluded its investigation and says no criminal charges will be laid. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

More than two years after three people were killed in a tour bus rollover in Jasper National Park, the RCMP has concluded its investigation and say no criminal charges will be laid.

There were 27 people on board the Columbia Icefield tour bus in July 2020 when it rolled about 50 metres down a moraine embankment before coming to rest on its roof.

Three people were killed and 14 others suffered life-threatening injuries when the red-and-white, all-terrain Ice Explorer lost control while carrying passengers on the road to the Athabasca Glacier.

In a news release Friday morning, Jasper RCMP said they have completed their investigation into the July 18, 2020 incident.

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“The RCMP have shared all requested investigative material gathered during the criminal investigation with the Ministry of Labour as required by the Alberta OH&S Act,” read the news release.

“While the RCMP is aware of the charges resulting from the regulatory investigation, the criminal standard is high and the criminal investigation is independent, separate and parallel to the OH&S investigation.

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“Upon consultation with the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, the RCMP have determined that no criminal charges are warranted in this investigation. This determination brings the RCMP’s criminal investigation to a close.”

Click to play video: 'Tour bus operator charged in deadly Columbia Icefield rollover'
Tour bus operator charged in deadly Columbia Icefield rollover

The RCMP said the investigation was “of the utmost seriousness and was complex, both factually and legally.”

“Our thoughts continue to go out to the families of the deceased and the injured, and to all who have been impacted by this tragedy.”

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Two civil lawsuits have been filed on behalf of people on the bus that day.

The tour bus company involved in the fatal rollover, Brewster Inc., was charged under the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act earlier this year. The company was charged with eight charges related to failing to control the hazard of the grade of the slope of the lateral moraine, not mandating seatbelt usage, not maintaining seatbelts and not checking the safety of equipment.

An official with Pursuit, the company that runs the tours, welcomed the announcement that there would not be criminal charges.

“From the beginning, we have actively supported a transparent and multi-agency investigation into the cause of this tragic accident,” said an email from Tanya Otis, the company’s director of media and communications.

“Following an extensive multidisciplinary review, we implemented additional measures to our safety and training programs that adhere to and exceed industry best practices.”

Tours of the Icefield resumed last year. The tour bus operator earlier said seatbelts had been added to the buses and changes to driver training and road maintenance had been made.

— with files from The Canadian Press.


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