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‘We will not forget’: Memorial to victims unveiled in Dauphin on 1st anniversary of deadly bus crash

Families, first responders and community members gathered in Dauphin Saturday to remember and honour the 17 people who died, and eight others who were injured, in a tragic bus crash one year ago.

They came together in the small western Manitoba city for the unveiling of a monument in the local CN Park, with portraits of those who died in the June 15, 2023, crash lined up next to it.

That day, a bus carrying 25 people — most of them seniors from Dauphin and the surrounding area — headed to a casino near Carberry for a day trip was hit by a semi at a Trans-Canada Highway intersection.

The names of the 17 who died in the crash, and those who survived, were read at Saturday’s ceremony before a moment of silence.

“They are parents, grandparents, family, friends, and neighbours,” the text on the monument reads. “They are leaders and volunteers in their churches, community festivals and local organizations.”

A row of portaits are seen standing outside in front of a crowd.
Portraits of crash victims were lined up beside the monument on Saturday. ‘They are parents, grandparents, family, friends, and neighbours,’ the monument says. ‘They are leaders and volunteers in their churches, community festivals and local organizations.’ (Travis Golby/CBC)

Dauphin Mayor David Bosiak said the year since the crash has been difficult.

“As we attempt to carry on without those who we love, we’ll be reminded of them every time we view this monument,” he said at Saturday’s ceremony.

“Hopefully, as time passes, seeing this monument will bring some joy, instead of the sorrow.”

Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew also offered his condolences to the families of the survivors during the ceremony.

“It is important to come together at times like this,” he said.

“While we may not have answers for all the difficult questions, we know that through being present and through stepping forward to be there for one another, we can begin to chart a path forward.”

A group of people are pictured standing with their heads bowed.
The names of those who died and survived the crash were read at Saturday’s ceremony before a moment of silence. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Kinew told the survivors that they’re not alone.

“There are so many emotions and reflections that we’ve all entertained over this past year, and yet you are the ones who have had to endure so much of it, in the most acute way,” he said.

“We join you, we mourn with you,” he said. “We remember and we will not forget.”

Tribute to first responders

Cam Abrey, chief of the Dauphin Fire Department, said the effects of the crash rippled through the community.

“One year ago today, many lives intertwined as a result of this tragic incident,” he said at the ceremony, where he helped unveil the permanent fixture, alongside officials from fire departments in Brandon and the rural municipality of North Cypress-Langford, where the crash happened.

Abrey also read out some of the words engraved on the monument, that thank the first responders who rushed to help one year ago.

“Thank you for holding the hands of those who were fighting for their lives that day, and for ensuring the dignity of those that were lost,” the monument’s text reads.

Kinew also thanked the first responders from across the province.

“You put yourselves into harm’s way in order to do the right thing, and you made a real difference,” Kinew said.

“We’ve taken the decision at the province of Manitoba to award the first responders who were on the scene of this terrible tragedy the Order of the Buffalo Hunt,” which is the highest honour the premier can bestow, he said.

An overhead view of a highway intersection. Several vehicles are on the road, and there are large skid and burn marks across the highway.
A June 16, 2023, drone photo shows the intersection where the crash happened the day before. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

The crash happened as the bus, which was southbound on Highway 5, was crossing the Trans-Canada and was hit by an eastbound semi. RCMP have previously said that the semi had the right of way.

RCMP said earlier this week that due to a medical condition caused by the accident, they may never be able to speak to the driver of the bus. They said evidence they gathered in their investigation of the crash has been turned over to Crown prosecutors, who will decide whether to lay charges.

The Manitoba government, meanwhile, is examining options to improve safety at the intersection where the crash happened.

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