Canada police blame bus driver for crash that killed 17 elderly people

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police blamed on Wednesday the driver of a small bus for a crash that killed 17 elderly people last year, saying he had pulled out in front of a speeding truck when it was not safe to do so.

Authorities said they would not charge the driver, since he had suffered a traumatic brain injury. The crash, one of the worst in Canadian history, occurred in June 2023 about 170 kms (105 miles) west of Winnipeg in the central province of Manitoba.

The driver of the bus, carrying senior citizens to a casino, entered a highway intersection "when it was unsafe to do so" and the truck then smashed into the vehicle, police superintendent Rob Lasson told a press conference.

"It happened because of a choice made by the bus driver. However, we cannot prove that choice that day was the result of anything criminal," he said.

Chris Vanderhooft, a prosecutor working for the Manitoba government, said blind spots inside the bus had prevented the driver from seeing the truck.

The crash was the worst in Canada since 16 people died in 2018 when a truck hit a bus transporting a junior hockey team in neighboring Saskatchewan. The truck driver was sentenced to eight years in prison.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Ismail Shakil)