They had left earlier that morning and boarded the bus for what should have been a day trip to the casino.
But they never made it there.
Fifteen of the 25 people on board a bus, mostly senior citizens, were killed after it was hit by a semi-trailer truck as the bus crossed a highway intersection in southwestern Manitoba late Thursday morning.
Another 10 people on the bus were taken to hospital with serious injuries, RCMP said.
The day after, the deadly crash shook people in the western Manitoba community calling the victims home.
Here’s what else we know so far about what happened — and what comes next.
How did the crash happen?
The bus was traveling south on Highway 5 and was crossing the eastbound lanes of the Trans-Canada Highway when it was struck by a semi-trailer truck, RCMP said.
Mounties said on Friday they had confirmed the semi had the right of way after reviewing dashcam footage of the larger vehicle.
Testimonies from passing motorists confirmed what police saw on the video, Supt. Rob Lasson, Manitoba’s RCMP officer in charge of major crime services, said at a news conference.
“We are not assigning or assigning blame at this point,” Lasson said. “We are only presenting the facts as we know them.”
The speed limit on both highways at the intersection where the accident occurred is 100 km/h.
Where did it happen?
The intersection where the two vehicles collided is surrounded by fields and is located just north of Carberry, a small town in southwestern Manitoba about 100 miles west of Winnipeg.
Who were in the vehicles?
On the bus involved in the crash were 25 people — 19 women and six men — ranging in age from 58 to 88, Lasson said Friday.
Fifteen of those people died and 10 were taken to hospital.
LOOK | RCMP puzzle of tragic crash put together:
The vehicle had departed the Dauphin Active Living Center Thursday morning and was on its way to the Sand Hills Casino near Carberry, about 90 miles south of the town of Dauphin.
Seniors and community members from Dauphin, which has a population of about 8,000, often take the bus to nearby events and casinos, an active housing center official said.
The trailer at the scene bore the name of the transport company Day & Ross.
In a statement Thursday, Day & Ross CEO William Doherty said the company was “heartbroken” by what happened and would fully cooperate with the investigation.
Lasson said on Friday the semi-driver had been released from hospital and had spoken to police. The driver of the bus remained in hospital as of Friday, so police had not spoken to them at that point, Lasson said.
Where are the survivors?
On Friday, the 10 survivors — six women and four men who ranged in age from their early 60s to late 80s — remained at the hospital at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Center and Regional Health Center in the town of Brandon in southwestern Manitoba.
That’s according to information from the RCMP and Shared Health, which oversees health care in Manitoba.
The response to the crash included 14 intensive care medical crew and two helicopters from the STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service) air ambulance service, as well as two aircraft.
Brian Schoonbaert, chief executive officer for the Prairie Mountain Health region — which covers southwestern Manitoba — told Breaking: that while six victims of the crash were initially taken to Brandon Hospital, only one had remained there as of late Friday afternoon. . That person was in stable condition while the rest were transferred to Winnipeg.
Shared Health said on Friday that six of the survivors were in an intensive care unit, while four were in a surgical ward. They are being treated for “a variety of serious injuries,” which were largely head and orthopedic injuries.
How many accidents occur at this intersection?
From 2012 until Thursday’s crash, there had been only one fatal accident at the intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 5, a provincial spokesman said Friday.
Between 2012 and 2021 – the most recent year in which exact data were available – there were a total of 29 accidents, including 12 where an injury was reported.
Seven of those collisions involved animals and 22 car accidents, the spokesman said.
What happens now?
All 10 survivors have now been identified, meaning everyone who was on the bus is “presumed dead,” Lasson said Friday. The families of the victims have all been notified.
Manitoba’s chief medical examiner, Dr. John Younes, said the significant injuries of those killed in the crash make it difficult to identify them visually. His office is working to officially identify them, using methods such as fingerprints, dental records, medical history and DNA matching.
Manitoba RCMP also said they have turned to their counterparts in Saskatchewan for help investigating the mass casualty crash, which has drawn comparisons to the 2018 Humboldt Broncos tragedy.
And while police are continuing their investigation into the crash, that doesn’t mean answers will come any time soon.
Lasson said it could be more than three months before Mounties can share the findings of their study. Adding the timeline will depend on how long survivors are in the hospital and what information the police uncover as they work.
Both the semi and the van have been seized for analysis. RCMP also determines whether the semi had an event data recorder, which could provide information including speed, coordinates and the vehicle’s mechanical status, Lasson said.
Meanwhile, people in Dauphin are struggling to come to terms with the deaths and injuries of members of that community.
“Literally everyone in the city knows someone who was on that bus,” said David Bosiak, the city’s mayor.
“Right now it’s just about the magnitude of this and how everyone is affected.”
LOOK | Family support centers open to victims:
A family support center has been set up at Trinity Lutheran Church in Dauphin. Lasson said a second support center has been set up at a Winnipeg location.
Mounties are asking people to share information or videos that could help with their investigation into the crash.