A passenger bus involved in an accident along a logging road Friday night is carried from the crash scene by a tow-truck near Bamfield, B.C. on Saturday, September 14, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

A passenger bus involved in an accident along a logging road Friday night is carried from the crash scene by a tow-truck near Bamfield, B.C. on Saturday, September 14, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Coroner says lack of seatbelts a factor in fatal Bamfield bus crash

2019 rollover killed two 18-year-old University of Victoria students during a field trip

The deaths of two University of Victoria students on Bamfield Road in 2019 were caused in part by a lack of seatbelt use, according to a coroner’s report.

On Sept. 13, 2019, John Geerdes and Emma Machado, both 18, died after a chartered bus carrying 45 UVic students and two teaching assistants slid off the side of the road and down an incline, landing on its roof. The bus was on its way to the remote Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on Vancouver Island’s West Coast for a school field trip.

The BC Coroners Service released a report on March 10, 2021, classifying the deaths as accidental. Both Geerdes and Machado died of blunt force head trauma.

The report notes that the chartered Wilson’s Transportation coach bus was travelling south along Bamfield Main at around 9 p.m. when it encountered a vehicle travelling north. The bus steered to the right to allow the approaching vehicle to pass. The wheels of the bus sank into the soft shoulder of the road, causing the bus to roll over down an embankment.

READ MORE: Bus carrying students crashed in Bamfield after it moved for another vehicle: RCMP

According to the Coroner’s report, both Geerdes and Machado were partially ejected from a window during the roll over and sustained fatal injuries.

At the time of the incident, neither Geerdes or Machado were wearing their seatbelts. The report says that the coach bus had been refitted with approved seatbelts, but the use of these seatbelts was not enforced by the driver or school staff.

“The use of seatbelts on coach buses is not consistently regulated across Canada and Transport Canada is currently reviewing the national laws,” the report notes.

The report ends with a recommendation for ICBC to review its public awareness strategy to promote the use of seatbelts across the province.

Following the fatal crash, UVic requested a review from an independent party, and the resulting report came with a number of recommendations for future school field trips. Any future UVic bus trips to Bamfield will now have the appropriate staff on board to enforce protocols such as the wearing of seatbelts.

READ MORE: University of Victoria changes Bamfield field trip protocol after fatal crash

Meanwhile, construction on the road between Port Alberni and Bamfield is expected to begin later this year. Plans are to chipseal the unpaved industrial road, making it safer to travel. Costs for the upgrades are being split between the Province of B.C. ($25.7 million) and Huu-ay-aht First Nations ($5 million).

READ MORE: Closures planned for Bamfield Road

Bamfieldmotor vehicle crashUVic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A photo illustration shows a fountain planned for Mill Lake. (City of Abbotsford photo)
UPDATED: City approves $200K fountain for Mill Lake using donated funds

Project will improve lake quality and ecosystem, say Abbotsford city staff

Linnea Labbee outside the Chilliwack Law Courts on April 1, 2021 on day 16 of her trial in BC Supreme Court where she is charged in connection with the fatal hit-and-run of a 78-year-old woman on Mary Street on Dec. 1, 2016. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crown seeking jail time for 72-year-old Chilliwack woman found guilty in fatal hit-and-run

Trial of Linnea Labbee who struck and killed 78-year-old woman in 2016 ended Monday

The Abbotsford IHOP, shown here on April 5, is now completely removed. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Abbotsford IHOP building taken down

Iconic restaurant had been on South Fraser Way for nearly 33 years

Abbotsford's Rick Hansen Secondary School is celebrating Vaisakhi virtually for 2021. (Submitted)
VIDEO: Abbotsford’s Rick Hansen Secondary School celebrates ‘Virtual Vaisakhi’

Production highlights local youth talent in anticipation of the start of annual festival on April 13

The Abbotsford Gogos are inviting local residents to watch a virtual concert in support of African grandmothers. The concert first airs on April 15. (Photo: Abbotsford Gogos Facebook page)
Abbotsford Gogos invite guests to virtual concert to support African grandmothers

Event first airs on April 15, featuring music, dance and storytelling

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Surrey RCMP are seeking the public's help to locate three puppies stolen from a South Surrey home on April 10. (Surrey RCMP photos)
Puppies stolen during weekend break-and-enter in South Surrey

Surrey RCMP seeking public’s assistance in locating three American Bulldog puppies

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Mounties say they “corralled” four Ford Mustangs April 4 after an officer saw the muscle cars racing down 184 Street near 53 Avenue at about 10 p.m. (File Photo)
Mounties impound four Mustangs

Surrey RCMP say they seized four cars for street racing

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read