A charter bus carrying several Special Olympian athletes from Prince George and Quesnel on their way to a competition in Kelowna on Friday was involved in a fatal collision north of Kamloops.
The bus had 24 athletes on board, including 10 from Prince George, and was en route to the inaugural Special Olympics B.C. Snow Sports Festival in Kelowna, a competition and training camp for cross-country skiing, alpine skiing and snowshoeing.
The crash happened Friday afternoon on the Trans Canada Highway about 15 kilometres east of Cache Creek when the driver of a westbound car lost control and crossed over the centre line into the path of the oncoming bus. The car burst into flames and motorists who stopped to help were unable to free the driver, the lone occupant of the vehicle, who died on scene.
RCMP told the Kamloops Daily News that identifying the victim could take awhile since the fire left the victim, car and license plate unrecognizable.
Snowshoer Marinka Van Hage was sitting near the front of the bus with her mother Wilma, the team's coach, when the accident happened. Marinka suffered a cracked wrist and Wilma was left with several bruises.
Sixteen people were taken to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, where they were treated for minor injuries and released. They arrived in Kelowna later on Friday night and most were able to take part in the competition as scheduled Saturday.
Dan Howe, CEO of Special Olympics B.C., said all 24 people on board the charter bus were taken to the hospital in Kamloops for various ailments from minor scraps and bruises to a fractured wrist.
"Everyone was released that night and after dinner in Kamloops they decided to continue with their trip to Kelowna," said Howe, from his home in Vancouver.
The group of athletes, coaches and caregivers chartered a second bus, as the bus they were riding in was totaled in the collision.
Howe said he was told everyone was in good spirits after Saturday's first day of competition and training at the Snow Games.
"I think everyone is different and responds to situations differently whether they've got special needs or not," said Howe.
The other Prince George snowshoeing athletes on the bus were Michael Harris, Tegan Raines, Adrian Rosen, Stephanie Tremblay. The cross-country skiers making the trip from Prince George were Barb Conway, Chantal Chan, Kelly Hein, Danny Lafreniere, Brian Whitfield, with coaches Calvin Dyck and Barry Whitfield