Three people were killed and 24 were injured.

By Alison Fox
July 20, 2020
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A sightseeing bus used to explore glaciers in Canada’s Jasper National Park rolled over this weekend, killing three people and injuring two dozen others, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Ice Explorer bus, which held 27 people, was touring the scenic Columbia Icefield in Alberta when it crashed at about 1 p.m. local time on Saturday.  Twenty-four people were taken to area hospitals in Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Hinton, and Calgary, including 14 in critical condition, according to the Alberta Health Services. Ambulance helicopters responded to the scene, airlifting patients.

Dave McKenna, the president of the Banff Jasper Collection for Pursuit confirmed to Travel + Leisure in an email on Monday that the investigation was ongoing.

"I would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased as well as extend our utmost sympathy to those who were injured in Saturday’s accident," McKenna said, thanking officials, first responders, and their own staff "for responding so quickly."

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) shared on Sunday that they were working to remove the vehicle from the scene to complete a mechanical inspection.

A photo of an Ice Explorer bus at Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada.
George Rose / Contributor

"Public safety is our number one priority, and Jasper RCMP and members from surrounding detachments have been working diligently in collaboration with Parks Canada, Search and Rescue, STARS air ambulance, EMS, fire departments, and Alberta Commercial Vehicle Enforcement," the RCMP said.

A representative for Pursuit, which operated the ice explorer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Travel + Leisure. The sightseeing ice explorer  — which can hold up to 56 people — was not full due to COVID-19, according to the company’s website, and was operating at about 50 percent capacity.

“To those who lost a loved one in yesterday’s bus crash at the Columbia Icefields, know that we are here for you and are keeping you in our thoughts,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on Sunday. “We also wish a full recovery to those who were injured. And to the first responders, thank you for your quick action and hard work.”

At the time of the crash, the ice explorer was heading to the Athabasca Glacier, according to NBC News, which is the most-visited glacier in North America. The bus may have been struck by a rock slide, the network noted, citing a witness from another sightseeing tour.

The ice explorer may not have contained seatbelts, CBC News reported, citing a witness on a different Pursuit tour bus.

According to Travel Alberta, the Columbia Icefield sits between Banff and Jasper along the spectacular Icefields Parkway. The icefield — the largest in the Canadian Rockies — covers about 89 square miles.