Two persons still in hospital after bizarre bus crash in northeastern Nova Scotia

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Jason Johnston was sitting with his eyes closed when he felt something amiss as the bus he was travelling on drove through blowing snow Saturday night.
"I opened my eyes and figured there was something wrong because it seemed like we were sliding," he said in an interview Monday with the CBC from his hospital bed.
"I seen us go through the guardrail and then it started to roll. The next thing I knew, I'm in water. And basically fully submerged in water because I'm drinking salt water."
Johnston suffered a broken and dislocated shoulder, cuts and bruises all over his body, and frostbite that left both hands discoloured and covered in huge blisters.
Five of the six people aboard, including the driver, were taken to hospital, but only two - Johnston and the bus driver - remained there Monday.
Johnston said he heard passengers screaming and crying around him as the Acadian Lines bus fell almost eight metres to the ice-choked Tracadie River, where it tipped on its side and submerged partially.
"I didn't have time to get scared; I didn't have time to do anything," he said. "I don't know how I got out of the bus - I have no idea."
Johnston and the others on board were able to get on top of the bus as it sat in the water. He had to wait 45 minutes in bitter cold until rescuers could hoist him to the roadway in a basket.
Steve Wilton, a university student also on the bus, wasn't seriously hurt when the bus fell into the river.
The 20-year-old from Lingan, N.S., was home Monday nursing some minor cuts, banged up legs, and a sore neck, hip and chest.
"I don't have any broken bones that I know of, I am walking, I'm OK," he said. "I mean, I thought the bus was going to sink down on us. Yeah, I feel lucky."
He believes no one should have been on the road in condition that severe.
"I've taken the bus before in bad weather and you seem so safe - you feel really safe on a big bus," he told CTV. "But we felt really alone once we hit down there - no one else around - and you realize that you're not that safe."
Bus driver Ken Mitchell was involved in an eerily similar accident last year. He was behind the wheel of an Acadian Lines bus that crashed through a guardrail and into the Baddeck River in February.
Denise Sirois, a spokesperson for Acadian Lines, said Mitchell was also in hospital Monday. She said the company had a team investigating the accident and that it would be premature to speculate about the cause. She called Mitchell an experienced driver who was absolved of blame in the first accident.
RCMP Sgt. Brigdit Leger said a black box was retrieved from the bus and the investigation was continuing.
Wilton, a music and philosophy student at St. Francis Xavier University, was on the bus heading for home when everything suddenly went topsy-turvy.
He said the bus landed on its left side and the back end started to sink into the river.
"I thought the whole bus was going to sink under water so that was probably the most terrifying part there," he said. "I was scared."
Wilton said he swam to the front of the bus, scrambled out onto the river ice and up an embankment to the highway to flag down a passing transport truck and car. The drivers called 911.
"I was just running down the street waving my arms like a maniac."

Organizations: Acadian Lines, CBC, CTV RCMP St. Francis Xavier University

Geographic location: Northeastern Nova Scotia, ANTIGONISH, Tracadie River Lingan Baddeck River

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