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

Innisfail RCMP investigate serious collision west of Innisfail

One of the passengers was taken by STARS air ambulance to the hospital

The Red Deer Home Renovation & Design Show runs through to Sunday at Westerner Park

Lots of ideas for fall renovation, decor, design, organization, construction and indoor living projects

Red Deer RCMP investigate second failed ATM theft attempt

This is the second attempt to steal the ATM from Eastview IGA in less than a week

Get your scare on at the annual Zed Haunted House

The haunted house opens tonight at 6833 66th St.

Singer k.d. lang receives Alberta’s highest honour

Celebrated singer-songwriter k.d. lang received the Alberta Order of Excellence in Edmonton

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Pot sales down by nearly 70% on Day 2 of legalization in B.C.

Several products on BC Cannabis Store are still sold out

Colourfully named cannabis products appeal to youth, Tory health critic says

Conservative health critic Marilyn Gladu says the Liberal government needs to do more to ensure cannabis products available online are not enticing to young people

B.C. high school teacher faces sexual assault charges

A Mt. Boucherie teacher has been charged with child luring, sexual exploitation and sexual assault.

Fashion Fridays: You can never have enough shoes

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Migrants, police mass in town on Guatemala-Mexico border

Many of the more than 2,000 Hondurans in a migrant caravan trying to wend its way to the United States left spontaneously with little more than the clothes on their backs and what they could quickly throw into backpacks.

Trump: ‘Severe’ consequences if Saudis murdered Khashoggi

Pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak on Wednesday said it had obtained audio recordings of the alleged killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Most Read