One person is dead and several Special Olympics athletes were taken to Royal Inland Hospital after a car drove into the path of a charter bus near Cache Creek.
The collision caused the car to explode into flames. Emergency responders closed the highway for several hours Friday night in order for police and the coroner to investigate.
"The athletes are quite distraught," RCMP Cpl. J.R. Michaud told The Kamloops Daily News. "It's an emotional day for them for sure."
He said the driver of the westbound car was killed. The athletes' injuries ranged from scrapes and bruises to possible fractures.
There were 24 athletes on the A&E Charter bus out of Quesnel along with caregivers. Michaud said the athletes are from Quesnel and Prince George and were bound for Kelowna.
The location of the crash was 15 kilometres east of Cache Creek near the McAbee fossil beds area.
Medical personnel at RIH expected to be swamped with between 18 and 24 patients. No extra staff were brought in, but some stayed late. A representative for the athletes declined to comment.
RCMP and the B.C. Coroners Service must determine why the car crossed the centre line of the Trans-Canada Highway into the bus's path.
The identity of the driver of the car had not been confirmed Friday night.
Ted Giesbrecht and his wife, Anita, were driving home to 100 Mile House from Kamloops when the car passed them.
"The next thing we saw as we came around a gentle bend in the road was poof -- something hit the front end of the bus, careened off to the side of the road and was on fire," said Giesbrecht.
Giesbrecht, along with a truck driver who also stopped, ran to help. The truck driver had a couple of fire extinguishers and the men tried to put out the burning car.
"We made a dent, but not a lot. It just kept roaring," he said. "What do you do?"
Giesbrecht and other passersby helped passengers get out of the bus. He said the vehicle's front window was blown out in the collision.
"They were in a bit of shock. They were all pretty calm actually," he said.
Police, firefighters and paramedics arrived. Michaud said a second charter bus was brought in to take the athletes to Kamloops. Some travelled by ambulance.
He said 16 passengers were injured. There was only one occupant in the car.