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

Sports broadcaster and 30-year high school football coach Farhan Lalji. (Image via farhanlalji.com)
Farhan Lalji chats about the new B.C. high school sports governance proposal

Lalji, a 30-year high school football coach, thinks the new proposal will be bad for student athletes

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Surrey councillor trying to get policing referendum on the table, again

‘I’m sending it back for clarification,’ mayor decides

A simulation lab at Surrey Memorial Hospital has been helping healthcare professionals train during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Memorial Hospital’s simulation lab trains professionals during COVID-19 pandemic

Surrey Hospitals Foundation contributing $100K toward new technologies

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Dr. Bonnie Henry says Surrey immunization targeted at neighbourhoods most at risk

‘What we’ve been looking at is the case rates by neighbourhood,’ provincial health officer says

A horse and driver cruise around the track at Fraser Downs in Cloverdale Sept. 14, 2020 amid smoke from U.S. forest fires. Harness Racing B.C. announced it’s halting the spring season two weeks early because of a lack of money and says racing won’t continue in September without and influx of cash. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Harness racing suspended at Fraser Downs

Spring season ends early, 135 workers out of jobs

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Nick Warmerdam and his dog Diesel are inviting locals to check out the Lakeland Farm U-pick Flower Farm this spring. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford’s Lakeland Flowers opens for spring

Tulip farm attraction opened on April 14, open to the public daily seven days a week

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

The female driver of this Jeep Grand Cherokee (right) was driving erratically with a young child inside on Highway 1 eastbound. After hitting a barrier and a parked car, she finally exited the highway at Yale Road West and came to a stop. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Video captures woman driving erratically with child after hitting barrier, car on Hwy 1 in Chilliwack

Smoke seen coming from SUV as it continues to travel eastbound of shoulder of highway

Former Pitt Meadows city councillor David Murray was convicted of sex assault, and is now being sued by the victim. (files)
Former Pitt Meadows city councillor sued for sex assault

David Murray was convicted in 2017 of sexually assaulting a teen 25 years earlier

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Most Read