Proposed party bus rules wouldn’t have saved victim: family
The family of a woman killed during a party bus ride three years ago says new regulations proposed by the B.C. government probably wouldn’t have saved her.
Darcy James, whose 23-year-old daughter Chelsea was run over after she fell through a faulty door on a party bus in January of 2016, said he is still waiting for news of any improvements to an inspection system that missed the door multiple times and allowed such a dangerous bus on the road.
“We’re not the same. We’re fragmented,” James told CTV News. “It opens wounds again.”
He says his daughter, who was a teacher, would want the government to examine clearly what went wrong in how this bus was inspected – rather than leave another family to the James’ struggle for answers and accountability in her death.
“She would expect that this wouldn’t happen again. That this doesn’t just happen. That there are repercussions and things would get fixed. Every time I say this to someone, they just don’t believe it,” he said.
On Friday, the B.C. government announced it would quadruple fines for party buses and commercial vehicles that do not meet inspection standards. In 2019, offenders will pay $318 if they fail to show a decal that means they passed an inspection.
It’s not clear whether any buses involved in any of the incidents where party bus passengers were put at risk involved buses that were on the road despite not passing inspections.
But James noted that the Silver Lady Limo party bus his daughter was riding in had passed inspections that missed the faulty door. The company said it had fixed the problem in the door that earlier inspectors identified.
"If those regulations were as they are proposed right now the bus would have had a decal and passed and received no issues,” James said.
The Ministry of Transportation told CTV News in a statement that it "took the police working in conjunction with CVSE and a professional engineer to determine the issue with the door. It was an intermittent issue that would have been extremely difficult for an inspector to find."
An inspector can be fined $311 for an improperly approved vehicle.
The door was discovered in a Vancouver Police investigation into what killed Chelsea James. No charges were laid against Silver Lady Limo after the VPD botched paperwork in the case and let a one-year deadline to file elapse.
Other proposed regulations appear designed to prevent minors from consuming drugs and alcohol unsupervised on party buses -- circumstances that may have contributed to deaths or injury in other cases.
Those measures include having a safety monitor or chaperones if a minor is on board, having minors sign consent forms, putting security cameras on buses and putting in emergency alerts.
In 2008, Shannon Raymond, 16, died several hours after consuming ecstasy and alcohol aboard a party bus. She was sleeping over after a house party at the Maple Ridge home of another mom, Victoria Turley; Turley was charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life but was acquitted.
In 2010, two teenaged girls fell out of the side door of a party bus in Langley. One of the girls was knocked unconscious. Police found alcohol aboard the bus.
In 2012, a brawl involving as many as 50 young people resulted in two people getting stabbed and three others bashed with a wood plank. Many of them were riding in a party bus that had just stopped at a gas station.
In 2013, Ernest Azoadam, 17, died suddenly while on a party bus. A coroner’s inquest couldn’t determine the cause of death, but ruled out drugs and alcohol.
Later in 2013, a 17-year old, Mackenzie Gortva, was punched in the face by another partygoer and left in a rural parking lot when the bus went to its next stop.