A southbound NCN Thompson Bus spun out into the ditch on Highway 6 about 20 kilometres south of the Highway 60 junction Nov. 20 when the driver tried to avoid a stationary vehicle.
The accident was reported to RCMP around 3:15 a.m.
Sid Varma of NCN Thompson Bus said the company was alerted about the accident around 3:30 a.m.
“There was a pickup truck in the middle of the road,” he said.
Unable to stop in time to avoid the pickup, the bus driver tried to swerve around it and ended up spinning out into the ditch, damaging the front of the bus.
RCMP said that the driver of the truck suffered minor injuries.
A passenger on the bus, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the truck on the road had been reported to RCMP an hour or two before this collision occurred by friends of his who were driving to Winnipeg. They told him via Messenger that the man had stopped him to ask for a battery boost and that he was “drunk and disorderly.” RCMP said there was an earlier report of an abandoned vehicle but that the information they received was that there was nobody with it and that it was parked on the side of the highway.
“A life could have been taken,” said the passenger, who was in the back of the bus and thrown to the floor by the force of the collision, sustaining a scrape on his leg. “We’re all shook. A lot of anxiety.”
The passenger said he was standing three feet away from the man with the pickup truck and that he appeared drunk.
“I know what people look like [when they’re drunk],” he said.
Corrine Hart, who was on the bus and sleeping just before the crash, said she woke up when someone yelled and the bus began to swerve.
“For sure I thought, ‘Oh my God, we’re gonna roll,’” Hart told the Thompson Citizen. “It was all a flash before my eyes.”
Hart said the bus driver said that the other vehicle, which appeared to be damaged afterwards, didn’t have hazard lights or any other lights on.
RCMP were at the scene of the crash within 30 minutes, Varma said, adding that none of the bus passengers were seriously injured in the crash.
Regulations prohibit bus companies from continuing a trip in a bus that has been involved in an accident, so passengers were taken back to Grand Rapids to wait inside while a bus made its way up from Winnipeg. The bus that went into the ditch was being towed to Winnipeg as regulations require.
“We have a protocol to follow,” Varma said.
The passengers were given breakfast at the Misipawistik Cree Nation band hall in Grand Rapids before getting on the second bus that arrived to take them the rest of the way to Winnipeg when it arrived around 9 a.m. The other passenger who spoke to the Citizen said that they weren’t yet in Winnipeg as of just before 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Hart didn't continue on to Winnipeg but stayed in Grand Rapids with one of her children, trying to get a ride back to Thompson. She said she won’t be taking any overnight buses in the future.
RCMP continue gathering more information to determine if any Highway Traffic Act or Criminal Code charges may be warranted against the driver of the pickup.