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Second lawsuit related to fatal Jasper rollover filed

A second lawsuit in relation to the fatal motor coach rollover at the Columbia Icefield was filed on Sept. 10

COLUMBIA ICEFIELD – "Serious, grievous, permanent and catastrophic injuries" are the basis of the new lawsuit filed in relation to the fatal motor coach rollover at the Columbia Icefield earlier this summer.

On Sept. 10, a second lawsuit listing Brewster Travel Canada Inc., VIAD Corp, Glacier Park Inc., Brewster Inc., Brewster Tours Inc., Banff-Jasper Collection Holding Corp., ABC Corporation, XYZ Corporation and John and Jane Doe was filed in Edmonton.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

“The tour bus was travelling on the road to the Athabasca Glacier when it lost control and rolled about 50 metres down a moraine embankment before coming to a rest on its roof, causing the plaintiffs to sustain serious, grievous, permanent and catastrophic injuries,” the new claim reads.

The fatal crash was first reported through Jasper RCMP on July 18.

At the time, RCMP detachments from Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise, Lake Louise and Jasper fire departments, Parks Canada and EMS from Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff were all dispatched to the scene.

Out of the 27 passengers, 24 were injured, 14 sustained life-threatening injuries and three people died.

One of the deaths was Kamleshbhai Patel. The second statement of claim was filed as a result of damages and injuries sustained by six of the survivors and the death of Patel.

Failing to enact protective measures to prevent the collision, acting recklessly and unreasonably in failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the tour bus and road were properly maintained, failing to take any reasonable care to ensure the tour bus was reasonably safe for the use of persons, and creating policies, guidelines and directives that resulted in unreasonable, unsafe and or in the alternative, inappropriate operations of its vehicles were some of the 26 reasons listed for the lawsuit in the new statement of claim.

“As a result of the collision and resulting death of Kamleshbhai Patel … the plaintiff, Kiranben Patel has been deprived the support, love, care and affection of her husband,” the claim reads.

The six survivors listed dozens of personal injuries and other losses and damages, including concussions, vision problems, head injuries, fractured clavicle, broken noses, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

“None of the plaintiff’s injuries are ‘minor injuries,’ ” the claim reads.

Five plaintiffs are seeking general damages of $750,000, special damages of $500,000 and pecuniary damages of $750,000 – each. One plaintiff is seeking the same amount in general damages and special damages and asking $1 million for pecuniary damages.

Collectively the plaintiffs are seeking $3.5 million in punitive and exemplary damages. 

On July 29, Jasper RCMP asked for any video footage from the Columbia Icefield Adventure tour the day of the fatal rollover be shared with police.

According to a press release, officials said the RCMP reconstruction analyst continues to investigate the July 18 incident.

"RCMP are looking to speak with anyone that may have video from the tour that occurred before the rollover incident," wrote Cpl. Ronald Bumbry in the release. "If you have video from the early morning tour, we would like to speak with you.”

The tour that morning occurred at approximately 11:45 a.m. with the same Ice Explorer vehicle that rolled down the embankment later that day – known as Unit 547 Bison.

The Jasper RCMP detachment can be reached at 780-852-4421. 

The first lawsuit, which was filed on Aug. 6 to the Court of Queen’s Bench alleged the eight defendants acted recklessly and unreasonably in relation to the incident.

One of the deaths was Dionne Durocher, of Canoe Narrows, Sask.

The main plaintiff listed in the lawsuit is Devon Ernest, from North Battleford, Sask., Durocher's boyfriend.

In the first claim, Ernest stated he bought himself, Durocher, and his cousin Winnie Ernest, who was still in the hospital at the time of filing, a three-day trip using an online booking and reservation service. Included in the package was a trip to the Banff gondola, a cruise to Maligne Lake in Jasper and a tour of the Athabasca Glacier.

After completing the first two activities, Ernest said he and his group missed the first shuttle bus for the Ice Explorer Glacier Tour and scheduled a later bus.

"When boarding the tour bus, all passengers were informed that the tour bus has a maximum speed of 40 kilometres per hour and that the tour bus relied on the transmission to slow down," the claim reads.

"Shortly after the remarks by the tour bus operator, Jane Doe, the tour bus was travelling much faster than any previous point of the tour to that time. Shortly after the tour bus began increasing in speed, the front tire of the tour bus proceeded to go over the embankment on the road. [Ernest] was ejected from his seat and hit the roof of the tour bus. [He] lost consciousness."

In the Aug. 6 statement of claim, Ernest said he stayed by Durocher’s side until her death.

The allegations contained in the statements of claim have not been proven in court.

The incident occurred three months after Pursuit reopened, having shut down in March due to COVID-19.

Previously, the coaches held 56 passengers and a driver, but due to the pandemic, the capacity was reduced to 26 passengers and a driver that day.

On July 19, Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection, which operates Columbia Icefield Adventure and the Glacier Skywalk, announced the temporary suspension of its operations to allow officials to investigate.

"We continue to actively support a transparent and multi-agency investigation into the cause of this tragic accident. The results of this investigation, once completed, will be shared with the public," Pursuit Collection senior manager, Tanya Otis, said in an emailed statement in August.

"While we continue to provide support to guests and staff involved in this accident, we are unable to comment on any pending litigation."

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