Tour bus operator Icefield charged under Alberta’s OHS law for fatal rollover

The tour bus company involved in a 2020 Icefield crash in Jasper National Park has been charged under the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act as the RCMP’s criminal investigation is finalized.

Brewster Inc. faces eight charges under the OHS Act, related to “failure to control the danger of the lateral moraine slope”, failure to require seat belts to be worn, failure to maintain seat belts and failure to monitor safety of equipment.

The case will be heard in a provincial court in Jasper on June 23.

Read more:

No Answers 1 Year After Columbia Icefield Tour Bus Crash In Jasper National Park

On July 18, 2020, an ice explorer on the Columbia Icefield rolled off an embankment with 25 people in it. The rollover killed three passengers and left 14 others with life-threatening injuries after the big-wheel, red-and-white Ice Explorer lost control on the road to the Athabasca Glacier, about 100 kilometers southeast of Jasper, Alta.

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“What these current OHS charges are supposed to do is implement where a company has failed for people’s health and safety,” Basil Bansal, the attorney for a family who was on the ice crawler and saw a member die in the crash, told Global News.

Bansal’s clients are one of several plaintiffs in the civil and class action lawsuits arising from the crash facing Brewster.


Click to Play Video: 'No Answers 1 Year After Columbia Icefield Tour Bus Crash in Jasper National Park'







No Answers 1 Year After Columbia Icefield Tour Bus Crash In Jasper National Park


No Answers 1 Year After Columbia Icefield Tour Bus Crash in Jasper National Park – Jul 18, 2021

He said the charges reveal OHS’s view on Brewster’s liability.

“We know the injuries sustained and the lives that were lost. But this shows where the company was negligent and what they could have done to prevent it,” said Bansal, a partner at Diamond and Diamond law firm in Edmonton.

“So we now have some answers.”

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Bansal said his clients and plaintiffs in other claims have been waiting for these answers for nearly two years.

“It is good to see that the government has taken this seriously. These charges show the company’s negligence and it is moving in the right direction,” he said.


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More survivors of Columbia Icefield rollover file lawsuit against tour operator


More survivors of Columbia Icefield rollover file lawsuit against tour operator – October 1, 2020

“But unfortunately our customers’ lives will not be the same.”

A Friday press release from the Alberta government also said the criminal investigation was conducted separately from the health and safety at work in Alberta.

Pursuit, the company that organizes the Icefield bus tours, said in an emailed statement that it cannot comment on the details of the case due to legal proceedings.

“We continue to support a transparent and multi-institutional investigation into this tragic accident,” it said.

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Read more:

7 more survivors of Columbia Icefield rollover near Jasper file lawsuit against tour operator

The RCMP is aware of the charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and has shared all the information they have gathered with the OHS investigation, the press release said.

A final RCMP report on the rollover has not been released publicly but was filed with Alberta prosecutors in April.

The Crown will determine whether the evidence warrants a criminal charge.


Click to play video: 'Former drivers say Columbia Icefield tour buses are fraught with safety issues and poor maintenance'







Former drivers say Columbia Icefield tour buses suffer from safety issues and poor maintenance


Former drivers say Columbia Icefield tour buses face safety issues and poor maintenance – July 24, 2020

Bansal said an RCMP report and possible criminal charges could provide further answers to questions customers like him have about the Athabasca Glacier rollover.

He said he has also been a previous passenger on the ice crawler and hopes the OHS charges will change the way Brewster and other tour companies operate.

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“The whole purpose of these OHS charges is to implement measures such as seat belts, driver training, mechanical data and controls so that these problems do not recur,” Bansal said.

–with files from The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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