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Update: Workers injured in bus crash discharged from hospital

Northern Health has declared the Code Orange response at the University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George over.

8:15 a.m. Saturday

All but one of the 18 people injured in the crash were discharged from University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George, a Coastal GasLink news release issued Friday night stated. One person was held for observation.

3 p.m. Friday

Coastal GasLink says that 17 people employed by a contractor providing camp services for the natural gas pipeline project were injured in a single-vehicle charter bus crash north of Prince George on Friday.

"At this time, we understand that 17 people are receiving treatment from local hospitals for non-life-threatening injuries," a statement released by the company on Friday afternoon said. "We are grateful for the support and care of those individuals, and that this did not result in a more serious accident. Any incident where workers or the community are involved is not something we take lightly. Coastal GasLink is committed to helping ensure the environment, our workforce, and surrounding communities are safe in everything we do."

Coastal GasLink's Parsnip Lodge camp is located near the unincorporated community of Anzac, 117 km northeast of Prince George. Construction of the 670-km natural gas pipeline from west of Dawson Creek to Kitimat employed 5,513 workers as of the end of March 31, including 1,241 workers based out of Parsnip Lodge.

The crash occurred on Firth Lake Forest Service Road, near Hambone Road, located off of Highway 97 between Bear Lake and McLeod Lake, a statement issued by the Prince George RCMP on Friday morning said. Initial reports indicated there were 30 people aboard the bus at the time, the RCMP statement added.

A Code Orange response at the University of Northern B.C. in Prince George, which was declared Friday morning to respond to the influx of injured patients, was cancelled shortly before 3 p.m. on Friday, a statement released by Northern Health said.

B.C Premier David Eby offered thoughts and well-wishes to those injured and their families, on behalf of all British Columbians, during a press availability in Prince George on Friday. The workers injured were 'just trying to go to work to support their families" when the crash happened, he said.

"This has been a terrible 24-hours for (bus accidents)," Eby said, citing a deadly bus crash in Manitoba which has claimed 15 lives.

A Coastal GasLink statement issued earlier this afternoon said 18 workers had been injured. That number was revised to 17, the company clarified in a statement issued at 3:03 p.m. on Friday.

1:20 p.m. Friday

Prince RCMP Cpl. Jennifer Cooper says the bus was carrying pipeline workers when it went off the road and Emergency Health Services says 17 patients have been taken to hospital. 

She says the cause of the crash is still unclear, but early morning rain on the gravel road made the conditions “quite poor.”

Cooper says initial reports indicate there were no critical injuries, but the distance from Prince George is hampering communications as radio coverage is minimal in that area.

11:40 a.m. Friday

Emergency response crews from Prince George and Mackenzie are responding to a charter bus crash north of Prince George on Friday morning.

The crash occurred on Firth Lake Forest Service Road, near Hambone Road, located off of Highway 97 between Bear Lake and McLeod Lake. Initial reports indicate there were 30 people aboard the bus at the time, a statement issued by Prince George RCMP said. 

“Prince George RCMP and Northern Health are currently working to get Northern Health Connections bus to the location to assist with transport of the wounded passengers,” Prince George RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jennifer Cooper said in a statement released Friday morning. “Efforts to reach the location have been made increasingly difficult with the early morning rain and the current road conditions, in addition to the distance from Prince George to the incident location.”

As of Friday at 11:15 a.m. the extent of injuries among those on board the bus was unknown, however no serious injuries were reported.

Seven ground ambulances from Prince George and Mackenzie, along with three BCEHS support units and multiple frontline police officers have been dispatched to the scene.

“University Hospital of Northern BC in Prince George has declared a Code Orange to support the response to the incident, and Northern Health is asking that area residents avoid the UHNBC emergency department for all but life-threatening emergency needs at this time,” the statement issued Friday morning said.

- with files from Canadian Press