RCMP provide bus crash investigation update

By Saturday afternoon on April 7, 2018, a small memorial had been set up on the entrance stairs leading into the Elgar Petersen hockey arena in Humboldt, Sask. -- Evan Radford/Daily Herald

The RCMP have determined the semi trailer involved in the fatal Humboldt Broncos bus crash was in the intersection at the time of the collision. Now, they’re out to determine why and how it got there.

RCMP assistant commissioner and Saskatchewan RCMP commanding officer Curtis Zablocki provided an update for media Thursday. The case, he said, is the force’s top priority.

“This one … is being prioritized,” he said. “We have significant resources dedicated to the completion of this investigation.”

Thursday the RCMP closed the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 335, where the collision occurred almost two weeks ago. A crew of seven reconstructionists and five analysts were on scene to recreate and examine the collision, looking at things like sight lines, measurements and more.

The investigation is now being led by the major crimes unit of the RCMP, as that group of officers has specialized teams with the expertise to lead major investigations.

“It’s not unusual for them to be involved in cases such as this,” Zablocki said.

“These individuals bring expertise and specialization in skills.”

Since the crash, officers have conducted over 50 interviews, talking to witnesses, the truck driver, the owner of the trucking company and some of the victims. More interviews are scheduled in the coming days and weeks. Officers have also shot over 5,500 photos and are using 3D technology and drones to gather evidence to analyze the scene.

All the documentation has been recovered, and the mechanical exploration has been done. Officers are examining driver logs for both the truck and the bus, looking at hours of work, brake checks, rest time and compliance with safety standards.

The engine control modules have been recovered and have been sent away for analysis.

The RCMP has determined road conditions were clear and the sun was shining at the time of the collision.

Zablocki said the RCMP is not ready to comment on whether criminal charges will be laid.

“We’re still in the evidence recovery and collection stage,” he said.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done interpreting and analyzing all the information gathered. Complex collision reconstruction investigations take time, and are often measured in weeks and months instead of days.”

Zablocki said environmental, human element, mechanical and other questions remain unanswered, and the investigation will work to answer those questions. The driver’s experience will be part of the investigation.

He promised to keep the public updated as more information becomes available.