Saskatchewan RCMP provide status of the Humboldt Bronco bus collision investigation

April 19, 2018
Regina, Saskatchewan

Statement

A/Commr Zablocki speaks at news conference on April 19:

Thank you for being here with us today. First and foremost, our thoughts continue to be with the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, and with everyone who is recovering from this national tragedy. The RCMP is committed to determining exactly what took place on the evening of April 6, 2018 as we have a responsibility to the victims, their families, the community of Humboldt and all Canadians to ensure a thorough and comprehensive investigation.

Collision investigation and reconstruction is about determining the factor(s) that caused or contributed to a collision. Our investigators and reconstructionists examine environmental aspects such as weather, visibility, road conditions and light; the mechanical condition of the vehicles involved; and the human element such as the physical condition of the drivers, driver error, driver distraction and speed.

Due to its complexity and scope, our Major Crimes Unit is leading this investigation with assistance from specialized units, including our Forensic Collision Reconstruction teams, Forensic Identification Services and our Major Case Management Unit. These specialized teams have the expertise necessary to lead an investigation of this magnitude and manage the large amount of information and evidence collected.

At this time, our teams have conducted over 50 interviews with persons including independent witnesses, the driver of the tractor trailer unit, the owner of the trucking company and with some of the victims. More interviews are scheduled in the coming days and weeks. Our Forensic Collision Reconstruction team has taken over 55 hundred photos and are using 3D technology, and unmanned aerial vehicles to gather evidence and analyze every aspect of the scene.

Earlier today, we closed the intersection of Highways 335 and 35 and deployed seven RCMP Collision Reconstructionists and five Collision Analysts for additional scene analysis. This will include positioning vehicles similar to those involved in the collision, allowing our reconstructionists to take further measurements and analyze sight lines.

But I must say, the integrity of this investigation is critical. And therefore we ask media outlets to be considerate in any reporting related to our continued work today back at the scene of this terrible tragedy. Further to this, initial inspections examining the mechanical conditions of both vehicles have been completed and we are awaiting the reports and the results of this important work.

As well, we have recovered all available documentation that was at the scene, including driver logbooks. We will conduct a complete review of these documents looking at, among other things, hours of work, rest time, brake checks, and compliance with safety standards.

I can confirm that we have recovered the engine control modules from both vehicles. They were taken by RCMP officers to California this week for further expert analysis. These engine control modules have the ability to record pre-collision data, including: speed and any change in speed, the RPM of the engines, and the application of brakes. And until the analysis is complete, we will not know what data was recorded by each vehicle prior to the collision. It is important to note that this data is used to supplement a scene investigation and assist in the examination of the circumstances of the event.

Here is what I can tell you further about the collision itself:

At this time, investigators know that at approximately 5:00 p.m. on April 6, the tractor trailer unit was travelling westbound on Highway 335 and the bus was travelling northbound on Highway 35, a thoroughfare, when the collision occurred. The preliminary investigation has determined that the tractor trailer unit was in the intersection at the time of the collision. I can assure you that all of our efforts are dedicated to determining why the tractor trailer unit was in the intersection.

We know the road conditions were clear and the sun was shining at the time of the collision. As it pertains to the driver of the tractor trailer unit, the driver was taken into custody immediately after the collision and released later that evening. The tractor trailer unit driver remains in regular contact with our officers.

As you have heard this morning, the investigation is still in the evidence recovery and collection stage. No charges have been laid in relation to this collision. There is still a lot of work to be done interpreting and analyzing all of the information gathered. We will continue working with our partner agencies at Transport Canada, the Provincial Coroner's Office, and with investigators from Saskatchewan Government Insurance, as our investigation continues. Their assistance is vital and we thank them for their efforts.

I want to thank once again all the first responders that attended the scene, those who have worked diligently on this investigation over the past two weeks and those who will continue to work until this investigation is concluded. Complex collision reconstruction investigations take time and are often measured in weeks and months rather than days. But be assured, we are committed to providing updates as this investigation progresses. Thank you.

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