An investigation into the deaths in a tour bus crash in Banff that left a woman dead and her husband with serious injuries has recommended better safety training for drivers and more proactive industry oversight.
The incident took place in September 2016, when a tour bus carrying 17 guests pulled up to the Castle Mountain Lookout in Banff National Park. The guests and the driver got off the small bus to enjoy the view.
Two of these guests, Jing Zhang and her husband, De Qiang Wang, stood on the sidewalk in front of the bus, which rolled forward and struck the couple.
Zhang was pushed along an embankment towards the river and was killed. Wang suffered a brain injury, fractured vertebrae and broken bones, according to the investigation report.
“He was unconscious in the hospital for about a month. He suffers from long-term or permanent physical, psychological and emotional problems, requiring long-term or permanent daily care,” the report read.
“As a result, Mr. Wang is unable to work for the rest of his life.”
Bus driver Jian Song was unable to attend the investigation. However, a court case that ended in a $ 2,300 fine and the loss of his license for a year for Song was highlighted in the report.
The investigation report indicated that Song left the bus transmission in the driving position with the keys still in the ignition.
Song had the appropriate license at the time of the incident but had not received the proper training and was able to operate the bus at the last minute. The day before, he was acting as a tour guide, while another person was driving.
The company usually had the two separate roles, but Song was forced to take on both jobs.
During his reckless driving trial, Song said he was distracted by other passengers when everyone disembarked at the Castle Mountain lookout.
Company audit and recommendations
An audit of the company Song worked for, Amazing Travel Inc., found that there was inadequate training, a lack of oversight of hours of service requirements designed to prevent fatigue, safety mechanisms insufficient and insufficient maintenance programs.
Beyond the company’s shortcomings, the investigation found that the regulator, Alberta Transportation Services (ATS), relies on voluntary compliance rather than proactive enforcement.
He also said ATS learned of the accident through the news and it was these media reports that triggered an audit of Amazing Travel. The survey suggests that there should be a better warning system for earlier investigation starts.
Since the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in 2018, new carriers have undergone a nine to 12 month mini-audit after being licensed.
The investigation found that the bus driver had not received adequate training and recommends that operators be required to provide driver training and safety practices and that ATS engage in more proactive oversight, including requesting proof of training programs, supervision and reporting methods before issuing a safety fitness license.
Amazing Travel has since ceased operations.