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Mayor of grieving city of Manitoba reflects on the aftermath of deadly bus crash: A world consumed by darkness and despair


Tire track pavement, scorched grass and pieces of debris are tangible evidence left at the scene of one of Manitoba’s deadliest accidents.

But there is a weight now, a sadness in a community struggling to understand the deaths of 15 people and the injuries of 10 others.

“Literally everyone in town knows someone who was on that bus,” said Dauphin mayor David Bosiak. “Right now it’s just about the magnitude of this and how everyone is affected.”

A semi-trailer truck and a bus carrying 25 people, mostly senior citizens from the Dauphin area, collided Thursday morning on the Trans-Canada Highway off Highway 5, just north of Carberry.

The bus was on its way to a casino in Carberry, on a day trip from Dauphin. Emergency services were called to the scene around 11:45 a.m., where witnesses described smoke and flames billowing from the small bus and the front of the semi.

The flags will be flown at half-mast outside Dauphin City Hall on Friday. (Josh Crabb/CBC)

Police and firefighters laid tarps on the ground and blocked areas from public view as they worked on the victims.

Among the survivors are the bus and truck drivers. RCMP support Rob Lasson said it appears the bus was traveling south on Highway 5 and crossing the Trans-Canada Highway when it was hit.

He declined to speculate on the cause or circumstances of the crash, but said investigations are ongoing and criminal charges are possible.

The Trans-Canada Highway fully reopened in both directions just before 3 a.m. Friday.

Bosiak spoke in few words when asked on Friday morning how his community was doing: “Shock. Sadness. Concern.”

Words of support are pouring in and helping people through some of the raw emotions, he said.

“It was really overwhelming, both from far and close. We literally had people reaching from coast to coast,” Bosiak said.

“It’s going to be tough. This is a tough slog, definitely. But just knowing that others here are here with us is really important.”

A family support center has been set up at Trinity Lutheran Church in Dauphin, a town of about 8,000 people in western Manitoba, about 90 miles north of Carberry.

“We’re doing our best right now and it’s clear that as the day progresses, and tomorrow and next week and beyond, people will manage in their own way,” Bosiak said.

“Obviously it’s extremely hard to be optimistic right now, but I would say our community is close and strong and we’ll get through it. It’s going to be hard and it’s going to hurt a lot of people, but the sun will come out .” eventually up tomorrow.

“That’s so hard to see now because everything seems so dark and gloomy.”

The crash prompts comparisons to the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy in 2018, when 16 people died and 13 were injured in a semi-trailer crash on a rural highway in Saskatchewan.

Manitoba RCMP has said they are turning to their counterparts in Saskatchewan for clues as they investigate the Manitoba crash. At the same time, Bosiak has turned to Humboldt for help in setting up support for his community.

He has had preliminary discussions with some people from the city of Saskatchewan about how they handled things in the immediate aftermath.

“We’re just trying to figure out, do people want to meet and get together somewhere? Is there a need for that? Will people want to do that alone or in a group?” he said.

“So those are the things that we’re definitely as sensitive to as we can be. We’re just not trying to do anything wrong, not knowing what to do.”

Dauphin City Hall is next to the Active Living Center for seniors, and Bosiak said the city government will be in touch with the center to see what they are up to and how they can work together.

“It’s just a matter of reaching out, communicating, giving people time to just grieve, and we’ll see,” he said.

Bosiak believes that people in his community, who are in that dark and gloomy place, need to know that they are in people’s minds. It’s the only thing that can help right now.

“If you know anyone from Dauphin, if you used to live here, or if you know anyone who lives here now, just get in touch – whether that’s a phone call, message, email, whatever,” he said.

“Just letting us know you’re thinking of us is extremely important right now, and we would really appreciate that.”

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