Bamfield bus crash survivor optimistic about premier looking at road

WatchIt's been a week-and-a-half after a devastating crash claimed the life of two young UVic students. They were on a trip to Bamfield on a notorious stretch of road. On Tuesday B.C.'s premier was in a meeting with the local First Nation, discussing possible improvements. It's something the survivor has been working towards since that tragic crash. Julian Kolsut reports

First-year University of Victoria student Sarah Hunter is back on campus, but readings and labs aren’t the only thing on her mind, as she copes with a tragic and devastating experience.

“I remember the smell being horrible, like gasoline and dirt and blood and a lot of other things,” said Hunter.

She’s a survivor, who was on board with other students and staff heading to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on Sept. 13.  Their bus ended up going off a remote road, rolling and killing two students.

“It was bumpy and approaching total darkness…. we kind of put our worries aside because we thought the school would have this handled and that this field trip would be completely safe,” said Sarah.

Then their worst fears turned to reality when the bus moved to avoid an oncoming car.

“I felt the bus tipping… I could feel the bus falling…  all I could do is hold on to my seat just horrified at what would happen next,” said Sarah.

“We hit the ground and the glass shattered by my face. I remember sliding at really high speed not knowing what would happen.”

The bus eventually stopped, caught on some trees. Sarah was okay, but in the seat directly in front of her, two classmates were not.

John Geerdes of Iowa and Emma Machado of Manitoba died that night.

READ MORE: Two teens identified as victims of fatal Bamfield bus crash

“It could have been me or anybody, and it’s so sad [that] two kids would not be able to call their parents tonight and let them know we are okay.”

She still grieves for her classmates, but Sarah has taken that pain and turned it in to activism, starting an online petition to improve conditions on that deadly stretch of road.

The loca Huu-ay-aht First Nations say they have long called for highway improvements, and on Tuesday, Premier John Horgan heard their pleas at a meeting while he was at the Union of BC Municipalities.

“We are going to sit down, take stock, where we can proceed keeping in mind the province does not own this road…. we are going to start with a public discussion among ourselves but bring in those other stakeholders,” said Horgan.

“My initial reaction is excitement,” said Sarah.

“I am glad they are talking about this, I am glad to hear something from that level of government, and to hear that they plan to make changes nothing is set in stone yet obviously, but I think that’s the first step to something and future changes.”

Machado’s parents say its the right move, that came too late.

“They’ll never bring Emma back to us. Our whole family has turned upside down. It’s like a bomb went off in our family. We are trying to pick up the pieces,” said mother Ethel MacIntosh.

Another trip to the centre is slated for October. UVic says they are waiting for an outcome of a review to guide transportation options for future trips.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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