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 nurse holds vials of AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 during a vaccination campaign at WiZink indoor arena in Madrid, Spain, Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Manu Fernandez
Hope residents 40 and older can now get vaccinated at participating pharmacies

Remedy’s RX pharmacist said the response from the public was immediate following announcement

Future Finlandia Lion Ian Heagy with his biggest fan, mom Jen Heagy. (submitted photo)
Chilliwack hockey player Ian Heagy defies the odds to land at Finlandia

Having never played a minute of rep, Heagy is making the jump from house to NCAA Div 2 hockey

The Abbotsford Centre has the ability to host AHL level games if the Vancouver Canucks or any other NHL team chose to move its affiliate to the arena. (File photo)
Abbotsford Centre ready for AHL if right opportunity presents itself

Building recently upgraded glass and boards, schedule would allow for AHL tenant

In 2012, police in Abbotsford placed surveillance cameras near the Dhaliwal home in the 2500 block of Bradner Road after there were two drive-by shootings in the area. Harb Dhaliwal, 31, has now been identified as the victim of a fatal shooting April 17 in Vancouver. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford man named as victim of fatal weekend shooting in Vancouver

Harpreet Dhaliwal, 31, killed outside of Cardero’s restaurant in Coal Harbour

Joudelie King wants to get out and live life to the fullest, but there are places she can’t go because they don’t meet her accessibility needs. (submitted photo)
New online tool provides accessibility map for people with disabilities

The myCommunity BC map provides accessibility info for nearly 1,000 locations in the province

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

A man has died after being shot at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park the evening of Monday, April 19. (Twitter/IHIT)
1 man dead after shooting at Coquitlam park: IHIT

The gunman is still at large, according to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Most Read