1 dead, several injured after school bus crash in B.C.'s Cariboo

A school bus was travelling along Highway 97 north of Lac La Hache, B.C., on June 21, 2024 when it went off the road and down an embankment, says the B.C. Highway Patrol. (Robert Moberg / CBC News - image credit)

One person is dead and several others are injured after a school bus crash north of Lac La Hache Friday afternoon.

B.C. Highway Patrol Cpl. Melissa Jongema said 100 Mile House RCMP were called to a bus crash on the highway at Butler Road at about 1 p.m. PT.

In an emailed statement, the B.C. Highway Patrol later said the bus was travelling on Highway 97 when it went off the road and down an embankment.

A photo posted to the Facebook group Williams Lake Speak Up appears to show a yellow school bus down an embankment along the highway.

Police said the crash was followed by a second incident in which a person was struck by a vehicle at the same location. They said despite the life-saving efforts of first responders, the person died.

In an email to CBC News, B.C. Emergency Health Services spokesperson Brian Twaites said 11 ambulances and seven air ambulances were sent to the scene, along with local firefighters and police.

B.C. Emergency Health Services says paramedics provided care to 36 patients. Seven patients were taken to hospital by ambulance and seven were transported by air ambulance.

Students on a field trip

Students on the bus were in grades 6 and 7 from 100 Mile Elementary and Horse Lake Elementary, on the way home from a field trip to Gavin Lake, according to Chris van der Mark, the superintendent of the Cariboo-Chilcotin School District.

He said the school district is working with police to ensure the parents and guardians of the students on the bus are informed. Parents were told to meet their kids at the South Cariboo Recreation Centre in 100 Mile House, van der Mark said.

"Our biggest focus right now is just making sure that our staff and our students are OK," he told CBC News on Friday afternoon.

LISTEN: Inside the response to the Lac La Hache bus crash:

Cindy Marcotte said she was driving home to Prince George when she was caught in stopped traffic after the crash.

"I just feel sick for the families. I hope the kids are OK," she said. "As a parent and a grandparent, it's a terrible thing to be close to something this awful."

The highway reopened late Friday night.