N.B. mothers who lost sons in 2007 van crash push for tire testing

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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BATHURST, N.B. - Three women who lost their sons in a horrific van crash in northern New Brunswick say the provincial government isn't doing enough to ensure the safety of the province's students.
The women from Bathurst, N.B., are pushing the government to test the winter tires being used on the 21-passenger minibuses now operated by the Education Department.
Seven members of the Bathurst High School boys basketball team, along with their coach's wife, were killed when their 15-passenger school van collided with a transport truck during a snowstorm in January 2008.
A subsequent coroner's inquest called for winter tires on all vehicles taking children to extra-curricular activities.
The mothers released a statement Wednesday accusing the Transport Minister Denis Landry of failing to make sure the tires on the minibuses are safe.
The group learned in October that the government had decided to put winter tires only on the back wheels of each of the minibuses, leaving the front wheels equipped with all-season tires.
Marcella Kelly, who lost her son Nikki in the crash, said the group wants the minibuses fitted with four winter tires.
If that doesn't happen, the group is offering to have the new tire arrangement tested.
However, the mothers say the government has said it won't make a decision on their offer until next month.
As a result, the mothers - Kelly, Isabelle Hains and Ana Acevedo - say they are taking matters into their own hands.
"If we have to pay for a rental vehicle ourselves, then we will." Kelly said in the statement.
The women said they have arranged for Michigan-based Continental Tire to test the tires for free.
However, they said Continental does not have a 21-passenger test vehicle.
Earlier this month, the mothers said they asked the Education Department for help. But they were told they would have to wait until January for an answer.
"We have a very narrow window of opportunity for free testing of the tires on this vehicle," Kelly said. "We can't wait any longer."
In May, a coroner's jury made 24 recommendations following the Jan. 12, 2008 accident.
The jury called for a strict new policy on school travel, repairs to the highway and mandatory winter tires on school vehicles.

Organizations: Education Department, Bathurst High School, Continental Tire

Geographic location: BATHURST, New Brunswick

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