Merritt bus crash

First responders and passengers look over the scene of a bus crash on Highway 97C Okanagan Connector between Merritt and Kelowna in this Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022 handout photo.

Christmas Eve bus crash survivors say, wear your seatbelts

Dear Editor:

We are grateful to be here today and we give thanks to the many people who helped us. We were on the bus that crashed on the connector on Christmas Eve. Thank goodness, we were wearing our seatbelts!

We were hanging from our seatbelts for about 30 minutes while the bus was evacuated while care was given to the injured. It was better than flying through the bus and hitting something.

People were really good about helping each other, retrieving whatever they could and staying relatively calm. Travellers in cars, stopped to let people from the bus warm up. Blankets got distributed, people shared their coats and let others use their phones to call family. At the scene, first responders quickly assessed and attached coloured ribbons to our arms, indicating the degree of injury, so that arriving EMT staff could go right to work.

All passengers were transported to hospitals by ambulance. We ended up at the Merritt Hospital. Others went to Kelowna, Kamloops and Penticton. At the Merritt Hospital, a nurse was assigned to people coming into ER, making sure we were warm and fed. She made connections with family members, connected with hotels, and prepared vouchers.

One of the passengers, from the back of the bus, opened up a box of chocolates that was going to be his dad’s gift, and shared it with fellow bus passengers.

After we were discharged, we were transported by an off-active-duty police officer to the Best Western Hotel, where we were met by Emergency Services. We were given personal kits and they gave each of us their phone numbers so we could contact them at any time.

The manager of the Best Western went beyond duty. She contacted a restaurant, which was providing dinners for needy people. She and some staff went down to get dinner for us, who were at the hotel on Christmas Day. It was lovely for everyone to sit and eat together.

Merritt Emergency Room arranged to have medications replaced during our wait. On our third day, E-Bus offered to take us either back to Kelowna or on to the Lower Mainland. We chose to return home and were delivered right to our door. Our friends brought us dinner, which we really appreciated. It was lovely to be back home to some normalcy. The hugs and friendship helped, too.

Besides the value of wearing seatbelts on a bus, we are also reminded that we need to keep our faith in all Emergency Services. They may not be able to act as quickly as we all would like, but they were all there for us when we needed them. We thank all of them, profusely. The Best Western, in Merritt is also to be thanked for their care of us during our stay.

In a time of “disaster”, people showed their true colours by helping others in need. What a great Christmas gift.

Jane and Don Rampone


SOEC has done poor job on maintenance

Dear Editor:

This is the second hockey game I have been to after a heavy snowfall to find on exiting the building that the concrete steps have not been cleared.

This time it was really bad.

The steps had been trampled on and iced up and a couple of the steps were icy and mangled into a 45-degree angle and dangerous to step on.

What is going on at the South Okanagan Events Centre?

If they are not going to go to the expense of clearing all the exits of snow then they need to block them off. We have an excellent fire marshal in Penticton; he probably should be looking at this to see whether the condition of these steps is satisfactory in case of an emergency.

Why is the current management of the SOEC so intent on saving money at the expense of the patrons of the facility? First it was unexplained non-maintenance of bathroom facilities that went on for over a year that I personally know of; now concrete steps in dire need of snow clearing.

Whose fault is this? Is it a penny-pinching council that is so intent on spending tax dollars on “I wants” like bike lanes it cannot afford to shovel snow from public venues? Or is it the fault of the management of the SOEC tasked with running this facility?

Upon searching the net I find that the SOEC complex is managed by Spectra a subsidiary of Comcast Spectacor. Apparently, Spectra Venue Management is the largest public assembly facility management company in Canada. Spectra-managed facilities span the entire country, with venues that include arenas, convention centres and ice facilities. Internationally they manage more than 100 other public assembly facilities around the world.

If someone falls going down these steps it likely won’t be Spectra stuck with the bill in any lawsuit it will be the taxpayers of Penticton.

The bathroom shower problem was fixed after a letter to the editor: Is that what it takes to get maintenance done in this facility? There is one question that the taxpayers of Penticton deserve an answer to: If the obvious maintenance like snow clearing and bathroom maintenance is being ignored when they are so easily fixable what deterioration to the facility is being ignored behind the scenes that the public can’t see.

Someone needs to get a grip.

Elvena Slump


Letters to the editor shouldn’t proselytize

Dear Editor:

Re: “Where are ex-church people going?,” by Fr. Harry Clarke (Herald, Dec. 21).

So the “little flock” wants you to keep writing... too bad they didn’t say try writing “little letters, not one as long as the editor’s columns.”

This town is full of religions, churches and spiritual leaders... what if they all choose to proselytize — there’d be no room for anyone or anything else in the paper.

Save it for the pulpit!

Joy Lang


Dislikes direction of Miller Time! column

Dear Editor:

I thought I was the only one.

Peter Maser took you to task in his Dec 30th missive. I feel I am betraying you, but James you really do need to grow up. Your continual reviews on rock bands and other musical so-called artists do get tiresome, and I would bet do not resonate with the bigger proportion of readers. Who does give a rats behind about these groups who should get a real job.

Stick with the politics. Think you just might excel at that.

Paul Crossley