Four people have died in a Christmas Eve bus crash on the Okanagan Connector, RCMP have confirmed.
On Dec. 24, at approximately 6 p.m., a passenger bus crashed along Highway 97C between Merritt and West Kelowna, near the Loon Lake exit.
The RCMP said that four people were found dead at the scene of the incident.
Fifty-three people were taken to hospital immediately after the incident and 36 people were treated for injuries. Interior Health confirmed Sunday that eight remain in hospital in Kelowna, Merritt and Kamloops.
Not all people in the rollover have been identified and the RCMP is working to contact the next of kin for those killed by the crash.
A Code Orange was enacted in Kelowna, Merritt, and Penticton hospitals to accommodate for the injured passengers.
The code is called during mass casualties or serious events and sets in motion a series of protocols to prepare the hospital for an influx of critically injured people.
B.C. Minister of Health Adrian Dix said that two aircraft and 16 ambulances responded to the incident.
Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by the accident on Hwy 97C last night, especially the loved ones of the four people who tragically died. @BCEHS transported 52 patients to 4 @InteriorHealth hospitals with minor to life threatening injuries. 8 patients remain in care this AM
— Adrian Dix (@adriandix) December 25, 2022
A preliminary investigation by the RCMP found that the bus was travelling westbound before the crash and rolled onto its passenger side, coming to a stop in the eastbound lanes.
No other vehicles were involved.
An information line has been set up by Interior Health as British Columbians search for details on their loved ones who were impacted by the crash. Those searching for additional information on their loved ones and which hospital a patient was taken to can call 250-545-2211.
RCMP Collision Re-constructionists and the Coroners Service attended the scene. This matter is still under active investigation.
A freezing rain warning is currently in effect along the Connector with conditions expected to worsen on Christmas night before warming on Dec. 26.
If you witnessed the collision or have dash-cam video of the Bus travelling prior to the collision, please contact your local RCMP.