Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Vigil Will be Held to Mark 10th Anniversary of Boys in Red on Thursday evening, January 11 from 9 pm to 1 am

A candlelight vigil is held every year on the evening of January 11 to mark the
anniversary of the Boys in Red tragedy. This photo was taken on January 11, 2017.

A candlelight vigil will take place on Thursday evening, January 11 at the sacred site on Highway 8 where the Boys in Red tragedy took place 10 years ago.

We hold the vigil on the evening of the 11th to mark the last hours of our boys' lives and to be present  at the site when the clock strikes 12:08 am on January 12, the exact moment when the crash took place.

All our welcome to attend, but please dress warmly and carry flashlights and/or wear reflective strips or bright clothes so you can be seen getting in and out of your cars on the highway.

Highway 8 Memorial is a Sacred Place

High school friends of Boys in Red
at highway memorial on January 12, 2012.
(Note: This article was reprinted from January 8, 2010.)

We hear that the Mayor of Bathurst, Stephen Brunet, wants people to stop going to the crash site on Highway 8 near Bathurst where a spontaneous memorial was erected by friends and family of the Boys in Red who were killed two years ago today on January 12, 2008.

He says the area is dangerous and he wants people to concentrate their efforts on building a memorial in downtown Bathurst with the funds that were raised from public donations in the aftermath of ours sons deaths.

While we agree that we need to complete the planned memorial in downtown Bathurst, and that Highway 8 is not the safest place, as evidenced by the death of our children there, we believe it would be pointless to try to stop people from visiting the memorial that has existed along Highway 8 for two years today.

Instead, why not make the memorial on Highway 8 a safer place for the people who will keep going there - no matter what anyone says - because it has become a "sacred site".

Since the day our sons were killed people have been stopping along Highway 8 at the very spot where the tragic collision took place. It is a remote place, surrounded by woods on both sides for miles, a broad swath of snow in the winter separates the two lanes from the forest and in the summer scruffy weeds and grass grow there.

To someone who doesn't know the significance of the place it looks like any other stretch of rural highway. But once they see that basketball net along the side of the road, the place takes on a completely different meaning.

It has, for all intents and purposes, become a "sacred site", no less than a cemetery or a cenotaph. It is the place where the tragedy that took our sons' lives happened. It cannot be erased from memory. It is what it is.

It is a memorial.

Until last summer, there were two basketball nets facing each other about fifty feet apart and strewn along the ground between the nets were dozens of basketballs, rugby balls, teddy bears, sport shirts, baseball caps, sports medals, hand written notes and photos of the boys. Those two nets stood there, like a sentinel along the side of the road for more than a year. Then last summer, the old nets came down, the area was cleared and the old memorial was replaced with another beautiful basketball memorial that was made by one of the fathers and his friends in honour of his son and the other Boys in Red.

Meantime, more and more people continue to stop at the site because it has become a "sacred place". We believe that even if the new memorial was removed, it will be impossible to stop friends and family from going there again and creating another one in memory of their sons.

So although the Mayor may be well-intentioned, fearing that an accident may occur, we want to say as the parents of the boys who were killed on January 12, 2008 that it will be impossible to stop people, including us, from going to the memorial to the Boys in Red on Highway 8 because it is a "sacred site", no less than the proposed memorial to the Boys in Red that is planned for downtown Bathurst.

There are hundreds and thousands of similar "sacred sites" scattered along roads and highways across Canada and the United States, where relatives and friends go to remember their loved ones who never made it home. You see them in every community, crosses with fresh and sometimes wilted bouqets of flowers, others with photographs of the man, woman or child who was killed, a teddy bear, a favourite object, a tender photo are there to remind the living that the person who died at that very spot was loved and is remembered forever.

So to the mayor we say: nobody can stop the survivors, family and friends from going to these places along the side of the road because they are sacred to them. A spiritual connection has been made and no Department of Transportation or City Council can make them stop. To try would be folly.

We believe the memorial on Highway 8 and the planned memorial in downtown Bathurst can co-exist. We suggest that the City of Bathurst and the Department of Transportaton work with the victims' families to build a second permanent memorial to the Boys in Red on Highway 8 in the form of a rest area where travellers can safely park their cars and pause for a moment to reflect on the significance of site. It would be a peaceful place, a place where passersby can stop safely to remember the lives of the children who lost theirs so tragically on January 12, 2008.

(Note: This article was reprinted from January 8, 2010.)

Monday, January 8, 2018

Radio Canada Quebec: Fourgonnettes 15 passagers : « Les politiciens ont la mémoire courte »

La fourgonnette 15 places au lendemain de l'accident de Bathurst.

Isabelle Hains a perdu son fils dans l'accident de Bathurst qui a tué 8 personnes en 2008. En apprenant que le gouvernement du Québec songeait à autoriser de nouveau ces véhicules bannis dans certaines provinces pour le transport parascolaire, elle n'en croyait pas ses oreilles.

Un texte de Jonathan Lavoie

Cliquez ici pour voir l'article original

« Après la mort de mon fils, après 10 ans, je pense que les politiciens ont la mémoire courte. Je ne peux pas me permettre d'oublier parce que le prix que les parents et les familles ont payé est trop élevé. Nous n'avons pas la mémoire courte. »

En 2008, les enquêtes sur l'accident ont conclu que trois facteurs avaient contribué à causer l'accident de Bathurst : les conditions atmosphériques, une erreur du conducteur et le mauvais état mécanique du véhicule.

Une étude publiée en 2013 par le Conseil canadien des administrateurs en transport motorisé a par ailleurs conclu que les fourgonnettes 15 places n'étaient pas plus dangereuses qu'un autobus.

Isabelle Hains demeure toutefois convaincue que seuls les autobus scolaires et les autobus multifonctions (AMF) sont assez sécuritaires pour transporter des élèves et minimiser les risques en cas de collision. Elle implore les établissements scolaires de résister à la tentation de réduire les coûts de transport en utilisant d'autres types de véhicules.

« Pour les gens qui pensent à payer moins cher, vous savez ce que ça m'a coûté? J'ai perdu mon fils parce que le gouvernement voulait économiser », soutient Mme Hains, la voix nouée par l'émotion.

En croisade contre les 15 passagers

Après la mort de son fils, en 2008, Isabelle Hains et d'autres mères de victimes ont mené une croisade contre les fourgonnettes 15 passagers. Réunies au sein du groupe Van Angels, elles n'ont pas réussi à les faire complètement interdire au Canada, comme elles le souhaitaient, mais bon nombre d'écoles au pays ont cessé de les utiliser.

Isabelle Hains a aussi réussi à faire changer certaines lois. Les AMF sont maintenant reconnus officiellement comme un véhicule de transports d'écoliers par le gouvernement fédéral.

« Nous avons obtenu une définition pour l'AMF qui, avant, était dans une zone grise. En 2015, le gouvernement a reconnu l'AMF comme une sous catégorie d'autobus scolaire. C'est un véhicule construit selon les mêmes exigences, sans les feux clignotants », explique-t-elle.

Ces quelques victoires législatives n'effaceront toutefois jamais le souvenir douloureux de l'accident de janvier 2008. « Ma vie était normale il y a 10 ans. Je ne suis plus normale maintenant, je lutte tous les jours. Je ne veux pas que d'autres familles vivent la même chose. »

Au Nouveau-Brunswick, le gouvernement n'a pas précisé s'il entendait imiter le Québec et réévaluer l'utilisation des fourgonnettes 15 passagers pour le transport parascolaire.

Cliquez ici pour voir l'article original

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

CBC: Bathurst will remember Boys in Red with day of mourning in January

Flags on city buildings will fly at half mast to remember 7 high school basketball players and coach's wife

People gather to pay their respects at the highway crash site where a vigil organized by
Van Angels supporters has been held every year since 2009. A vigil to mark the 10th anniversary of the tragedy will be held on Thursday evening, January 11 from 9 pm to 1 am.
The city of Bathurst will hold a day of mourning on Jan. 12 from now on to remember seven high school basketball players — remembered as the Boys In Red — and their coach's wife, who died when their 15-passenger van collided with a transport truck nearly 10 years ago. 

Mayor Paolo Fongemie says flags will fly at half mast on city buildings every year on the date in memory of Javier Acevedo, Cody Branch, Nathan Cleland, Justin Cormier, Daniel Hains, all 17 and Nicholas Kelly, 15, Nickolas Quinn, who was 16, and Elizabeth Lord, 51.

"We did get some requests from community groups about how that sad anniversary would be marked in the city," said Fongemie.

Still a sensitive issue

The mayor said the losses are still painful for the families, community, and first responders to remember, especially on the anniversary.

"So we decided to do something symbolic with a day of mourning for our community and have the flags at half mast through our community with the city buildings," he said.

"It's a way to always remember this tragic day and also to pay our respect to the families and the first responders and everyone in the community."

The mayor said while it is still a sensitive issue, the idea of a day of mourning has been well received.

"Every year re-opens the wounds for our community and we still have first responders affected by this tragedy. So having a day of mourning an
d flying the flags half mast keeps it more as a solemn way of paying respects."

To read the original article on CBC go to http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/boys-in-red-day-of-mourning-1.4459347

Thursday, January 12, 2017

CTV Atlantic: Mother of Bathurst bus crash victim still fighting for change nine years after tragedy

Click here to watch CTV News article on 9th anniversary of tragedy,
"the crash that no one will ever forget."
January 12 is always a solemn anniversary in New Brunswick, since a bus crash killed seven members of the Bathurst High School basketball team and the coach's wife when their van collided with a transport truck. Since that day, family members, and those who support them, have pushed for change in New Brunswick.

Isabelle Hains, mother of victim Daniel Hains, passed on nearly 2,000 questions to a Crown prosecutor during the 2009 inquest into the tragedy. Families couldn't get standing at the coroner’s inquest, leaving many of their questions unanswered - something she says still hasn't changed. 

Hains' group, 'Van Angels,' has fought for the government to update the New Brunswick Coroners Act, and she still remembers feeling shut out of the Bathurst inquest whenever she sees another family in the same situation.

“I just feel for them, I say, ‘Oh my gosh, if they only knew what they have to go through to get the answers they want,’” says Hains.

“It's unbelievable that we're still dealing with a Coroner's Act that doesn't do so many things for the living and for the dead,” says Van Angels member Melynda Jarratt. “If its aim is to protect the living, I don't think it achieves its goal.”

David O'Brien, a past president of New Brunswick Bar Association, has spent more than a decade pushing for an overhaul of the New Brunswick Coroners Act, fighting to give families and other groups legal standing when it comes to coroner's inquests.

“I think we should take another kick at the can,” says O'Brien. “We're the only jurisdiction in the country that does not permit that. All other jurisdictions have agreed it's a good idea and implemented it, some of them, like Ontario, as long ago as the 1970s.”

Legal standing gives interested parties the right to hire their own lawyers, call witnesses, and ask questions during an inquest.

“It comes from a different perspective if you have members of the family who can ask their own questions rather than having to pass notes to a Crown prosecutor,” says O'Brien.

Hains and Jarratt believe acts adopted by other provinces are more effective.

Moncton native Ashley Smith was the subject of an inquiry after her 2007 death in an Ontario jail.

Her family was able to gain legal standing in Ontario and participate in two inquests, which lawyers say was vital in obtaining the eventual verdict of homicide, rather than an accident.

In the years since the Smith inquiry, there are numerous examples of families fighting and failing to obtain legal standing in New Brunswick inquests - from the Serena Perry case in Saint John to the October inquest into the death of Dorchester inmate Glen Edward Wareham.

“2003, 2008, 2009, 2011, and I wrote the last letter in 2013 to whoever was in power in 2013!” says O'Brien. “Liberals, Conservatives, we never really got a principled response as to why they declined to do what's been done everywhere else in the country.”

The Bar Association hasn't requested that the Gallant government update the act, but feel change needs to come soon.

The Department of Justice and Public Safety did not respond to CTV's request for comment on Thursday.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Cami Kepke

Click here to watch CTV News article on 9th anniversary of tragedy, "the crash that no one will ever forget."

Monday, January 11, 2016

Remembering the Boys in Red on the 8th Anniversary of January 12, 2008

Eight years ago, at 8 minutes after 12 on January 12, 2008, seven members of the Bathurst High School Phantoms basketball team were killed when their 15 passenger van collided with a transport truck.

Tonight, at the sacred site where the collision occurred on Highway 11 outside Bathurst, we will gather once again to remember the "Boys in Red" and to pray that the lessons learned from this tragedy will never be repeated.

Everyone is welcome.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Van Angels: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Multifunction School Activity Buses (MFSABs) in Canada

Multi Function School Activity Bus and MFSA Certificaton Label

1.  What is the background history of the MFSAB definition in Canada?

On February 11, here in Canada, the MULTIFUNCTION SCHOOL ACTIVITY BUS (MFSAB) became a new definition under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act regulations in order to address the needs of school boards, organizations and bus service operators for an alternative vehicle to a 15-passenger van that would provide the same level of crash safety as a school bus. In 2003, the US, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) had already adopted the new definition of a MFSAB, as a sub-category of a school bus.

In 2006, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) submitted a proposal to Transport Canada for a new standard called a multifunction activity bus (MFAB) CSA D-270. The standard was developed to create a type of multi-passenger vehicle (11 or more) that could be classified under a school bus category but did not require traffic control devices (flashing lights and side signal stop arm), as it was not intended to be used for the transport of students to and from school. The CSA saw the need for a safe mode of transport for extra-curricular school activities, as well as, a safer vehicle to accommodate community organizations and bus service operators. In 2008, without managing to get the new standard adopted, the CSA published their own voluntary standard which Canadian manufacturers could use as this standard met and surpassed minimum Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) because it was built to the higher school bus requirements.

The Van Angels transportation safety advocacy group fully supported the CSA and the CSA D-270 standard as it would bring a safer alternative vehicle into the Canadian public's choice of transport for student and non- school groups use. It could carry more than 10 passengers, was built to yellow school bus standards and was not a 15-passenger van.  In September 2010, the Van Angels group spearheaded a committee that requested the Minister of Transport and his provincial/territorial counterparts to take the necessary steps to work with the CSA to recognize the MULTIFUNCTION ACTIVITY BUS (MFAB) CSA D-270 as a sub-category of a school bus.

On February 11, 2015, after four and a half years in the regulatory process, a new definition called the MULTIFUNCTION SCHOOL ACTIVITY BUS (MFSAB) emerged and became a part of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. It now harmonizes with the US definition. The CSA intends to withdraw their 2008 publication of the CSA D-270 standard and instead incorporate the MFSAB requirements as an optional mode in their next revision of their school bus safety standard.

2.What is Transport Canada's role in motor vehicle safety compliance?

Under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, Transport Canada proposes, establishes, regulates and enforces national motor vehicle safety standards for the safety performance requirements of all new and imported motor vehicles. The regulations set the minimum Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) required by law to be met by auto manufacturers. They do not address licensing or the use of after market modifications. Transport Canada does not have the mandate to ban a vehicle if it meets all the minimum required safety standards but can initiate investigations if motor vehicles are suspected to be defective.

3.What is the role of the Provinces/Territories in motor vehicle safety compliance?

The Provinces and Territories are responsible for the regulation and enforcement of the licensing, operation, modification and maintenance of all vehicles on public roads in their jurisdictions. They do have the regulatory power to ban a vehicle. For example, after several fatal accidents, including the very high profile Bathurst Tragedy in 2008, 15-passenger vans are now prohibited for student transportation in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Labrador and Newfoundland, Quebec and many individual school districts across Canada.

4.What is the definition of a "bus" in Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Act?

Under the regulations of the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Act, a "bus" is loosely defined as a class of motor vehicles that have the seating capacity of 10 or more occupants. It covers a broad range of vehicles, including 15-passenger vans, shuttle/activity buses, school buses, multifunction school activity buses and coach-style buses. 

5.What is the definition of a "school bus" in Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Act?

A "school bus" is further defined as a bus that is designed or equipped to carry students to and from school and/or to and from school related events/activities. A school bus is required to meet its own set of safety standards that are over and above the minimum safety standards for buses in general. It includes a reinforced steel rollover cage (CMVSS #220) , strong body joint strength (CMVSS #221) and emergency exits (CMVSS #217) plus several other features specific to a school bus body build.

6.What is the definition of a "MULTIFUNCTION SCHOOL ACTIVITY BUS" (MFSAB) in the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Act?

The "multifunction school activity bus' (MFSAB) is in the same structural category as a school bus but is designed to pick up and drop off students under circumstances that do not require the need to control traffic. They are meant to commute passengers from point to point, rather than the designated frequent and repeated road-side pick-up and drop off necessary to transport students to and from school. These vehicles do not require the flashing signal lights (CMVSS # 108) or the side signal stop arm (CMVSS # 131) but otherwise conform to the same high safety standards as the familiar yellow school bus. They are not built exclusively for student transportation and can be used by any group or organization looking for a high standard of transport.


In Canada, motor vehicles must meet all applicable minimum Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) to be allowed on our roads. (CMVSS harmonize with most of the US Federal Motor Vehicle Standards/ FMVSS.) Auto manufacturers are required by law to comply with all applicable CMVSS's in the production of new vehicles and it is their responsibility to affix a compliance label. This is called the VEHICLE CERTIFICATION LABEL and should not be confused with the vehicle identification number (VIN). The Vehicle Certification Label is usually located either to the hinge pillar, door latch-post or the door edge that meets the door-latch post, next to the driver's seat. It can also be found on the inward facing surface of the door next to the driver's seat or even to the left of the instrument panel. The label will include the identity of the manufacturer, the date of manufacture, the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) of each axle, the TYPE of vehicle and other pertinent information. Whether a vehicle is a "bus", "school bus" or "MFSAB", it will be clearly identified under the Type of vehicle heading. If a vehicle is built in more than one stage, (like a bus and MFSAB) then more than one vehicle certification label will be affixed to confirm that each stage manufacturer has complied with the applicable safety standards and the final stage label will indicate the completed vehicle type. Canadian manufactured vehicles also require a national mark which shows a number specifically assigned to the manufacturer.

8.What do the abbreviations mean under TYPE of VEHICLE on the Vehicle Compliance Label?

B/A - to refer to a bus/autobus
SB/AS - to refer to a school bus/autobus scolaire
MFSAB/AMAS - to refer to a multifunction school activity bus/autobus multifonction pour les activities scolaire


Canadians have the right to demand the safest mode of transport for students and other non-school group organizations.