Swift Current, SK Truck and Bus Collision, May 1980


Swift Current, Saskatchewan (AP) -- A fuel-tank truck smashed into the rear of a bus carrying a CP Rail crew about 20 miles west of here Wednesday and exploded in flames, killing more than 20.
Bodies of some victims were scattered on the shoulder of the Trans-Canadian Highway near the Alberta-Saskatchewan borders. Some survivors were badly burned.
"When we got the fire out, there were four more bodies between the bus and the semi-tanker that were burned," said JOHN MARTIN of nearby Webb, Saskatchewan, one of the first persons on the scene.
"Finally, when we got the fire cooled down or calmed so that we could get to the bus body, we lifted it ... (and found) about 20 to 24 guys. There were some more bodies underneath it. They were underneath the body of the bus right on the highway."
Asked if they were dead, MARTIN replied, "They were."
"We loaded some in the back of a half-ton before the ambulances got there."
About five hours after the accident there still was no official word on the death toll, but DARCY MORRICE of the coroner's office said it was "more than 20." A Swift Current radio station said 22 to 25 body bags were seen being loaded onto a semi trailer for transport to the city's Fairview hockey rink, converted to a temporary morgue.
A CP Rail spokesman in Calgary said the crew bus carried between 30 and 36 workers who were doing repair work on a mainline track near the site of the collision. He said they had finished the day's work and were being taken to a special train car in which they slept.
The spokesman said initial reports indicated the bus was sideswiped by a car and rolled over, then was struck from behind by the truck.
Police closed the highway near the scene of the accident.
KIM SIDDONS of Ottawa, who was driving to Calgary and was at the scene shortly after the crash, said the tanker apparently was carrying propane. He said the truck and at least part of the bus were still burning when he approached.
"Coming down an incline, I could see the smoke long before I saw the accident," he said.
"The bus looked fairly demolished. By the time we got there, a lot of the CP guys had gotten out and were pulling other people out."
The crew bus was said to be a school bus leased to CP Rail.

Marysville Journal Tribune Ohio 1980-05-28