HWY 63 Accident: Moose VS Red Arrow Charter

When they stay your life flashes before your eyes, I know exactly what they mean. Time seemed to stand still as I recall several things happening at once.

For video clips post accident HWY 63 Accident: Moose VS Red Arrow

Broken dashboard and blown out left window

I had two seats to myself. I was originally sitting in 1a in the single aisle but as it was not a full charter I slid over to 1B and 1C. Directly behind the driver.

Like I said several things happened simultaneously and in slow motion.

I started to slide and I heard the driver screaming.  I hit the divider between the driver and myself.

I heard glass shatter.

The left window completed blown out.

The driver was yelling “omg, ow, it hurts! IT HURTS!” Images flashed before me.

I’ve been taking the Red Arrow for nearly 2 decades now. They have amazing customer service, spacious seat, refreshments and on board entertainment and wifi. They are always on time and courteous. I love them.  3 years ago when I began commuting to and from Fort Mcmurray to Edmonton/ Calgary, I used to ride the charter bus to see my family as I did not have a vehicle due to being a recent Dental Hygiene graduate.
Shortly after, I acquired a vehicle I decided to take the bus to edmonton to see my family as it was deemed safer than driving. There are usually only 2-3 scheduled buses that leave Fort Mcmurray daily. And I always take the same one. For some reason – last minute I decided not to go. And that was the same charter that rolled over. Never before has anything like that happened with Red Arrow in all my years and this was a horrific accident with several people injured. I was NOT on that bus that day by some freak luck, but it still often crosses my mind that I almost was.

Images of the RedWater Bus Crash flashed before me as I slammed into the divider between the driver and myself. I remember reading about severed limbs and blood smeared on the road.

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Location: Stoney Mountain HWY 63 Northbound

All I could think about was the worse possible thing that could be happening to the driver. Impalement? Amputation? What about the other passengers?

Why such morbid thoughts one might ask? About 10 years ago I trained to be an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and I’ve been lifeguarding for over 15 years and even instructed rescue skills. Most of my life, since I was a teenager I’ve been trained and conditioned to respond and go over scenarios in my mind.

When the bus finally skidded to a stop. My blood was pumping. The driver was screaming in pain and confusion.

There was small bits of glass in my hair and embedded in my hands.

Instinct and training kicked in and I began a scene survey. I could tell it was only the front of the bus that was affected. I moved down towards the driver to see if he was alright and began asking him questions to see if he suffered an head injury.

 I instructed a man behind me to call 911, it seemed as though he was already doing it. Next I found the first aid kit and began assessing him for injuries and his vitals and checking for secondary injuries, once I realized his was fully comprehensive.

As I worked my way down I found that his chief complaint was his right knee and it looked as though he suffered a contusion and later on it evidently swelled quite aggressively and upon palpation may have indicated a possible fracture. The poor man was shaking but held his composure very admirably as the left side windshield was completely smashed through and the front left windshield shattered on the lower half and extruding to the point that he had articles of clothing outside the bus.

There were several broke fragments of dashboard and the electrical was sparking on his left  when he tried to engage his seat to give him room to get out. We decided against it and he stayed in his position until EMS arrived.

The Fort Mcmurray Police arrived on scene first with the Fire Department only a flash of light away. The crew was efficient and beyond professional. My friend Dave on the Fire department was even on the scene.  One the EMS personnel made the roads safe, they evacuated the driver to the ambulance.

He told me “I’m supposed to retire next year.” I said, “I think you should retire this year!”

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Dead Moose est. masss 700-800lbs.

The rest of the passengers waited for maybe another 30minutes before the replacement bus arrived and in the meantime, a couple of hunters pulled over and began dressing the dead moose for the free meat.

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Guys that pulled over to get some meat.

I held the light for them in exchange for a steak but as we cut into the moose it seemed the internal organs had been completely pulverized.  By the time the rib cage was finally exposed my friend and ride (another wonderful member of the Local Fire department) arrived to pick me up. Not only did he arrive in a timely manner but he brought refreshments and onion rings.

I love my community. Wood Buffalo region is amazing. The people are amazing and I am glad I am alive.

It’s late now.

Cheers to the experiences in life that bring us closer to appreciating the fragility of it.

12 thoughts on “HWY 63 Accident: Moose VS Red Arrow Charter

  1. Wow, glad to know everyone is safe abet some worse for wear. I’ve had a moose run out in front of my car once, lucky it was a good distance ahead and I could stop. I can’t imagine what would have happened to my Corolla if that was the damage on the bus.

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    • Hey Boris, that’s amazing you made it through that experience! I’ve heard of so many moose vs car … even truck and the end result was more often than not fatal. I think I’ve learned to more afraid of moose than any other wild animal! It’s like running into a brick wall..

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  2. Oh my gosh! How absolutely terrifying!!! Melba, my husband is a volunteer firefighter and First Responder. He would have reacted just as you had. Me, on the other hand? Basket case.

    The other Winter, I hit a bad patch of slush on the highway and swerved across the highway into oncoming traffic, all before rolling my van three times…with my little on firmly strapped into her car seat. When the vehicle stopped, it was dead quiet. The front window was shattered and I thought to myself, “Am I DEAD?!” Then I heard my daughter’s voice ask ME if I was okay. She thought it was cool because she said she was hanging like a bat upside down. Weeks later, she seemed to have suffered from PTSD. She wouldn’t get into a vehicle. She was terrified we would die. Because she was in her 5 pt harness and didn’t tense up like I did, she escaped without injury. I ended up in hospital with injuries to neck, back and ribs. The seat belt saved my life, but it also did a lot of damage. Thankful each day to be still alive…and that nothing happened to Little One.

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    • Wow.. what a crazy experience. Poor little girl. I can imagine that instant where you were wondering if you were dead. I’m not surprised she was so freakout a week later. It’s interesting how something like that manifests. I’m so glad you both are okay!! Can’t imagine what your husband felt like when you told him. Especially because he knows what could have transpired. I hope you have amazing winter tires now. SO glad you guys made it through that okay. That’s so scary.

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