School bus, minivan collide, leaving children with cuts, bruises

CALGARY — A tall spruce tree in Marilyn Gunn’s front yard was all that prevented a large yellow school bus from crashing through her front window Thursday.

As many as three dozen elementary school students are being treated for cuts and bruises after an accident in Calgary on Thursday

As many as three dozen elementary school students are being treated for cuts and bruises after an accident in Calgary on Thursday

CALGARY — A tall spruce tree in Marilyn Gunn’s front yard was all that prevented a large yellow school bus from crashing through her front window Thursday.

The school bus that had been carrying about three dozen elementary school children to morning classes smashed into the evergreen after rear-ending a minivan.

“All of a sudden I saw this tree … shaking violently and coming toward the house and then I heard the big crash,” Gunn told The Canadian Press. “I got up and stood here in the window and I saw the school bus in the tree. I ran out immediately and heard the children crying inside and screaming,” she said.

“Then our neighbour came out. We were trying to get the kids to open the back door and they couldn’t, so we went out and got a crowbar. Then we helped the children across the street and sat them on the lawn and then went and got blankets. It was quite the morning.”

Seventeen children, between the ages of five and 10, were taken to hospital with minor cuts and bruises.

The minivan had been turning left in front of Gunn’s home on a quiet residential street in northwest Calgary when it was hit. The vehicle rolled through her yard and flipped over against a retaining wall on the driveway.

The drivers, both women in their 30s, had non-life-threatening injuries, police and emergency officials said.

Bill Russnak, still wearing his pyjama bottoms and holding a cup of coffee, didn’t see the accident but he certainly heard it.

“It was loud. It was as if you took two of those big garbage buckets and dropped one on top of the other at about 50 miles per hour,” he said.

Russnak managed to get the rear door of the bus open so the kids could get out.

“The door would not open. We tried with our fingers. We got the crowbar, got the door pried open and started taking the kids out,” he recounted.

“When we opened the door, it was a great feeling because they had relief and they weren’t trapped anymore. Each one of them walked off the bus.”

The children were understandably upset, said Gunn.

“They were scared. They were all crying and they were panicking. It was the most heart-wrenching sound. When you hear children screaming, your heart just melts. Especially as a mom and a grandma.”

Police Insp. Curtis Olson said the outcome could have been a lot worse.

“They were all transported to the children’s hospital. They are all in fine condition. There was minor bumps and bruising, but they have all been accounted for and are with their parents.”

The cause of the accident was still under investigation, but there was a suggestion the brakes on the bus may have failed as it came down the hill to the corner where the collision occurred.

“Was it a matter of vehicle malfunction or was there some driver error? We can’t say for sure right now,” Olson said. “We’re most concerned about the … safety of the children and the safety of the community.

“What we will be doing at this point is assessing all the damage and determining what did take place and why it occurred.”

Speed may have also been a factor, but alcohol was not, he added.

First Student Canada, the company that owns the bus, was also investigating.

Six fire trucks and about 15 firefighters responded to the crash. Two large tow trucks worked with the fire department for over an hour trying to free the bus, which was entangled in the tree and heavily damaged in the front. Officials brought out chainsaws to help.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Const. Jason Tress leaves Red Deer provincial court. An RCMP officer, whose name is under a publication ban, testified Tress sexually assaulted her at a party in 2012. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Ex-RCMP officer denies sexually assaulting colleague at 2012 party

Former Const. Jason Tress took the stand in his own defence on Wednesday

A new public washroom, proposed for downtown Red Deer, was taken out of the city’s 2021 budget so more questions can be answered about the proposal. (Advocate file photo).
Proposed public washroom for downtown Red Deer was pulled from 2021 budget

More questions need to be answered about the $511,500 project

Some Red Deerians complain about too much light “spillage” from new LED streetlights. (Black Press file photo).
Complaints about too-bright LED streetlights are discussed by Red Deer city council

Night-time light ‘spillage’ can be a problem, says councillor

A male broke into an apartment building on Hinshaw Drive on Nov. 29 and pried open 40 resident mailboxes, removing mail from the mailboxes. RCMP is looking to identify the suspect. (Photo courtesy of RCMP)
RCMP looking for suspect in Sylvan Lake mail thefts

Sylvan Lake RCMP is investigating a theft from more than 40 mailboxes… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at Rideau Cottage during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Feds spending plan heads to confidence vote as provinces seek more health-care cash

OTTAWA — Provinces are criticizing the federal Liberals for failing to signal… Continue reading

Crossroads Church closes its doors for two weeks after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

Crossroads Church made the decision to cancel in-house services for two weeks… Continue reading

Red Deer College will be offering an online course to help businesses navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
RDC to offer online course helping businesses navigate COVID-19

Red Deer College is launching an online course designed to help businesses… Continue reading

The Gulls Stadium is still under construction, but the team is preparing for opening day in June 2021, with player announcements. (Photo Courtesy of TD Aerials - Central Alberta)
Gulls release schedule for 2021 WCBL season

The Sylvan Lake Gulls are set to make history this spring. Monday,… Continue reading

Muna Castle, a student at St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School earned honourable mention for the Honouring Spirit - Indigenous Student Award, handed out by the Alberta School Councils’ Association. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Catholic Schools)
Red Deer middle school students recognized for outstanding leadership

A pair of students from St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School received provincial… Continue reading

In this May 16, 2019, file photo, Salesforce chairman Marc Benioff speaks during a news conference, in Indianapolis. In a deal announced Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, business software pioneer Salesforce.com is buying work-chatting service Slack for $27.7 billion in a deal aimed at giving the two companies a better shot at competing against longtime industry powerhouse Microsoft. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
Salesforce buying work-chat service Slack for $27.7 billion

SAN RAMON, Calif. — Business software pioneer Salesforce.com is buying work-chatting service… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks remotely during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on May 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony from members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force on how to safely open the country and get America back to work and school. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)
People magazine reveals its ‘2020 People of the Year’

LOS ANGELES — People magazine has named George Clooney, Dr. Anthony Fauci,… Continue reading

Zeke Thurston, of Big Valley, Alta., rides Lunatic Party during saddle bronc rodeo semi-final action at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Sunday, July 14, 2019. Thurston is among five Canadians competing in the 2020 world championship of rodeo Dec. 3-12 in Arlington, Texas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Rough ride to National Finals Rodeo for Canadians in pandemic season

Levi Simpson and his horse Stetson are about to trample the turf… Continue reading

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary's Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season's top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
CP NewsAlert: Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

CP NewsAlert: Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Most Read