A 44-year-old man is dead and several others injured, including four children, after a head-on collision between a SUV and a school bus on Waywayseecappo First Nation on Thursday night.
“I’m a bit shook up,” band Coun. Lloyd Mecas said.
At approximately 8:30 p.m., Prairie Mountain RCMP responded to the crash on Shingoose Road.
RCMP said the SUV was travelling northbound on Shingoose Road when it collided with the southbound school bus.
All three passengers in the SUV were transported to Russell Hospital.
It was there that the man, who was sitting in the passenger seat and not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash, was pronounced dead.
Mecas said he knew everyone involved in the crash and that the death is having an impact on the community of approximately 1,200 people.
Waywayseecappo is located 40 kilometres east of Russell.
“Everyone is in shock right now and they’re taking it pretty hard,” Mecas said.
A 40-year-old woman, who was driving the SUV, and a 41-year-old man, who was in the back of the SUV and also not wearing his seatbelt, were treated for minor injuries.
The bus driver and four children passengers also suffered minor injuries.
Mecas said the bus driver is “pretty shook up” as a result of the crash.
Another woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said several community members helped pry the man and woman in the SUV out of the vehicle.
Others helped the children, who were returning from a youth gathering, to safety on the side of the road.
Manitoba RCMP spokesperson Tara Seel said investigators are continuing to comb through the evidence and that charges haven’t been ruled out.
Alcohol hasn’t been ruled out as a factor, either.
“Officers have to complete their testing and until their investigation is complete, we won’t say that it was a factor, at this point it is considered to be,” Seel said.
While she didn’t get into specifics, Seel said “the officers have very reasonable grounds to suspect alcohol is a factor.”
March was deemed Occupant Restraint Month by the RCMP and Seel said they continue to stress the importance of wearing your seatbelt while in a vehicle.
RCMP data shows 44 per cent of fatal crashes in Manitoba over the last three years involve the deceased being unbelted at the time of the crash.
Seel wasn’t sure if the school bus had seatbelts, however, most buses aren’t equipped with restraints.
“Any time a school bus that has children on board is involved in a collision it affects a number of people,” Seel said. “We’re very lucky the four children suffered minor injuries.”
The name of the deceased will not be released, she said.
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