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RCMP investigating cause of deadly rollover at Columbia Icefield Adventure

An RCMP collision reconstruction analyst, occupational health and safety and officers with Alberta commercial vehicle enforcement were on scene Sunday (July 19) investigating the cause of the fatal rollover
One of the specially designed Ice Explorer tour buses at the Columbia Icefield Adventure. On Saturday (July 18), one of the all-terrain vehicles rolled over en-route to the Athabasca Glacier injuring two dozen passengers and killing three. The investigation remains ongoing. PURSUIT PHOTO

COLUMBIA ICEFIELD – The investigation continues into a deadly rollover at the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park this weekend.

According to an update from K-Division RCMP media relations officer Leigh Drinkwater Sunday (July 19), investigators remain on scene and efforts are underway to remove the Ice Explorer for further examination. 

Drinkwater said members of the Jasper detachment, a K-Division collision reconstruction analyst, occupational health and safety, as well as transport officers from Alberta's commercial vehicle enforcement continue to investigate what happened.

RCMP and emergency services were dispatched at approximately 1 p.m. Saturday (July 18) to the Columbia Icefield Adventure, operated by Pursuit, after one of the company's Ice Explorer vehicles rolled over on the way to the Athabasca Glacier. 

An update from Alberta Health Services indicated that of the 27 passengers on the Ice Explorer at the Columbia Icefield Adventure when it rolled over, 14 were transported in critical life-threatening condition.

Four passengers were in serious, but stable condition, six were in stable condition and three passengers were killed in the crash.

"Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families and loved ones of the deceased, and with all of the patients impacted by this tragedy," wrote AHS spokesperson Sabrina Atwal in the statement. "We are extremely grateful to the healthcare teams and other emergency services who responded to this accident, and to all those who care for – and are still caring for those involved."

Pursuit spokesperson Tanya Otis confirmed the incident involved one of the tour company's specially designed all-terrain vehicles while it was on-route to the Athabasca Glacier. 

"We will provide additional details as they become available," Otis wrote in an email to the Outlook. "Our immediate concern is with the injured and their families and we are supporting the efforts of first responders."

Ambulances from Calgary, Jasper, Nordegg, Banff, Rocky Mountain House, Canmore, Hinton, Edmonton, and Sundre responded, along with Parks Canada visitor safety specialists, Alpine Helicopters Inc., STARS Air Ambulance and fixed wing ambulances from Slave Lake, Lac La Biche and Edmonton. 

Patients were taken to Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Hinton and Calgary hospitals by EMS, STARS and the fixed wing ambulances. 

STARS spokesperson Fatima Khawaja confirmed three of its air ambulances responded from Grande Prairie, Calgary and Edmonton.

STARS transported a 31-year-old male patient to University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton in critical, potentially life-threatening condition; a middle-aged female patient was taken to Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary in critical, potentially life-threatening condition; and a 27-year-old female patient was taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton in serious, but stable condition.

Khawaja said in addition to the crews on board each air ambulance – a flight paramedic and flight nurse – a STARS transport physician and resident responded. 

A transport physician with STARS worked with Alpine Helicopters Inc. to perform sling rescues of patients off the icefield to a nearby staging area where ambulances and air ambulances were waiting. 

Tanya Foubert

About the Author: Tanya Foubert

Tanya Foubert started as a news reporter at the Rocky Mountain Outlook in 2006. She won the Canadian Community Newspaper Award for best news story for her coverage of the 2013 flood. In December 2018, she became editor of the Outlook.
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