Katharine Sandiford, right, with her daughter Julia Creamer, 6, stand near the school bus zone at Golden Horn Elementary School in Whitehorse on Jan. 22. Sandiford is concerned with the amount of school bus accidents that have happened recently near her home in Marsh Lake. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

More RCMP patrols needed after school buses hit, Marsh Lake residents say

‘We want to feel like we can trust that system, but right now I feel like I can’t’

Marsh Lake residents are calling for heightened RCMP patrols along a southern stretch of the Alaska Highway after two recent collisions involving school buses.

While an RCMP spokesperson said there could be more police presence in the area eventually, the regional director of the bus company thinks there should be stiffer fines for those who break the law in this way.

Katharine Sandiford, mother to a 6-year-old Golden Horn Elementary School student, told the News that she and her partner witness reckless driving multiple times a week in Marsh Lake. Many parents, she added, are concerned.

“Will there be fatalities next time?” she said. “There’s nervousness even putting my kid on the bus every morning. We want to feel like we can trust that system, but right now I feel like I can’t.”

On Jan. 16, a transport truck traveling along the highway collided with a school bus her son was on. He wasn’t hurt, Sandiford said.

“I want to see increased RCMP patrols,” she said. “I’ve lived out here 10 years and have never once seen patrols on the highway, ever.”

One child was tended to by EMS at the site of the crash, then got back on the bus, according to an RCMP press release.

The driver of the truck was charged for not stopping for a school bus, according to the press release. The bus had its safety alerts flashing.

“The transport truck failed to stop as required, swerved to avoid hitting the bus, but clipped the rear of school bus in the process,” it says. “There was minor damage to both vehicles.”

Tracey Champagne said her 12-year-old son was transported to hospital after the collision, contradicting the RCMP’s statement.

“He’s fine,” she said. “They just took him in as a precaution.”

Champagne says problems like these have been going on for years.

When her son was younger, she said that she once bought a reflective vest for her husband so that he could walk him across the highway to the bus stop, near Nolan Road.

“People do not stop,” Champagne said, adding that her son, another Golden Horn student, has almost gotten hit a few times.

Two days after the accident on Jan. 16, another school bus that her son was on was almost struck, she said.

“My son, who’s in the backseat, turned around and there was a car coming straight at them and (the driver) swerved … and he ended up passing, on the shoulder, and took off,” Champagne said, adding that had a student left the bus at that moment, they would have been hit.

The RCMP “needs to start cracking down on these people.”

In a written statement, RCMP spokesperson Coralee Reid said that there are plans for bolstered patrols along the corridor.

“We won’t be providing any details on what that additional enforcement entails at this point, but once we have an update to share regarding our efforts, we’ll report back,” she wrote.

Last week, the RCMP conducted more patrols around Carcross Road and Carcross Cut-Off area during the morning rush hour, Reid said. Four speeding tickets were issued over a roughly one-hour period.

“That area will remain on our radar, in addition to others that we continue to patrol regularly,” she said.

Ron Swizdaryk, the regional director of Standard Bus Yukon, British Columbia, said a greater RCMP presence in the area will help, but it shouldn’t end there.

He said the Yukon’s Motor Vehicles Act should be changed to increase fines and demerit points for driving infractions when school buses are stopped.

“The police can only be in so many places at any one time,” Swizdaryk said, adding that four school buses are active in the Marsh Lake area.

Failure to stop for a school bus that’s flashing its red lights or one that’s receiving or discharging passengers results in a $200 fine and the loss of five demerit points, according to the act.

“That’s not enough to justify a person’s life, a child’s life, or the safety of one of my drivers,” Swizdaryk said.

All Yukon school bus schedules are posted online, meaning that drivers could use them to adjust their commutes if they don’t want to be stuck behind one, he added.

In early December, a school bus was struck in Marsh Lake when a car failed to stop in time, says another RCMP press release from then. It, too, had its safety alerts on. No students were injured, but the driver of the car was transported to hospital.

Swizdaryk said the car went right under the back of the bus.

Reid said the driver of the car was charged with driving without insurance.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read