A shot of the one rear axle, minus both tires, of the original bus that was transporting a group of Special Olympics athletes and coaches from Calgary to a training camp weekend in Edmonton June 1. Image: Ponoka County East District Fire Department

Ponoka Lions Club bus rescues Special Olympic athletes

Bus breakdown could have been bad, Ponoka groups come to save the day

For a bus load of athletes from Calgary, a potentially bad incident has instead become a moment to remember.

A group of 37 Special Olympics athletes along with officials, coaches and others were on their way June 1 to a Team Alberta training camp in Edmonton when the bus experienced a problem, leaving the group stranded on the side of the QEII. It turned out the bus had lost two tires from one of the rear axles.

That’s when the kindness of strangers brought a brightness to the group.

Members of the Alberta Integrated Traffic Unit and a Ponoka County East District Fire Department crew were dispatched to the scene on Highway 2 just south of Ponoka around 4:30 p.m. A short time after arriving on scene, it was evident that the large group needed to get to a safer place.

When it became apparent that it would be over an hour for another bus to show up, that’s when East District fire chief Dale Morrow put in a call for some help.

It was the Ponoka Lions Club bus driver Wally Rausch that answered, grabbing the bus and heading out to pick up the group as well as their luggage to bring into Ponoka to wait it out in a safe spot. All of this was accomplished and the group hanging out at Tim Hortons in around 45 minutes.

The situation could have been far worse — as the bus driver was able to set the vehicle safely onto the side of the highway after noticing a strange wobble.

“I was able to settle the bus down on the spring without any real bump or anything, right after I saw one of the tires fly past us and into a nearby field,” the bus driver stated.

“It wasn’t until talking with the Sheriffs that I realized someone else had called 911 minutes earlier and reported a tire coming off the bus and crossing all four lanes of the highway. It’s unbelievable that no one got hit.”

Kelly Edwards, one of the Special Olympic coaches on the bus, had tremendous praise for everyone involved — from their bus driver to the emergency personnel and the Ponoka Lions Club.

“We are all very grateful to everyone. To our bus driver for being able to get us to safety, the Sheriffs and the fire department for helping us and the Ponoka Lions Club for the generosity in getting us somewhere safe,” she said.

“The unofficial motto of the Special Olympics is hurry up and wait, and because the athletes are used to things like waiting for events and medal ceremonies, they all were great during this incident and just rolled with it all and okay with things.”

It wasn’t too long of a wait though, as the group’s new bus arrived around 6:15 p.m. and they were back on the road in about 15 minutes after the luggage and passengers were transferred from the Lions bus.

Just Posted

New Democrats would bring in $25 daycare if re-elected: Notley

Notley said the plan would include adding 13,000 daycare spaces

Supporters rally for Jason Kenney as UCP leader stops in Red Deer

Kenney promises equalization reform, stopping ‘Trudeau-Notley’ payroll hike, trade, economic mobility

WATCH: Fashion show highlights Cree designers

The fashion show was part of a Samson Cree Nation conference on MMIW

Rimbey RCMP need help identifying vandals

Plus, GPS in stolen vehicle helps locate it and the suspect in Red Deer

Ponoka Chamber to host election forum

All-candidates forum for Lacombe-Ponoka set for March 28 at the Ponoka Legion

Edmonton judge rules Omar Khadr’s sentence has expired

Eight-year sentence imposed in 2010 would have ended last October had Khadr remained in custody

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

Social media comments continue to dog ranks of United Conservative candidates

Eva Kiryakos was running in Calgary-South East in the April 16 vote

Apple announces its long-awaited streaming TV service

The iPhone has long been Apple’s marquee product and main money maker, but sales are starting to decline

Trudeau delivers campaign-style speech while introducing candidate Taggart

The Order of British Columbia recipient said she wants to be the people’s voice in Ottawa

15 Canadians on cruise ship that was stranded off Norway; one injured

The cruise ship was carrying 1,373 passengers and crew when it issued a mayday call on Saturday afternoon

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Most Read