Tuesday, October 27, 2009

National Post: School crash inquest foreman upset safety recommendations ignored

Richard Foot, Canwest News Service Published: Monday, October 26, 2009

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The jury foreman at the coroner's inquest into the infamous highway accident that killed seven students in New Brunswick last year says he's angry and dismayed that so few of the changes recommended by him and his fellow jurors have been acted upon by governments and school boards.

"It feels like there's a lack of care," says Jeffrey Causey, making his first public comments since the inquest finished its work in May.

Mr. Causey listened to weeks of wrenching testimony from witnesses who explained how seven high school basketball players and a teacher died when their van collided with an oncoming transport truck while driving home from an out-of-town game in January, 2008. Others testified how poorly the van had been maintained by school officials, and how warnings of an incoming winter storm were ignored.

At the end of it all, Mr. Causey and five other jurors released a list of 24 recommendations, designed to fix the safety flaws in the way Bathurst High School, and many other Canadian schools, transport children to extra-curricular events.

Five months later, those recommendations have mostly fallen on deaf ears, and the lessons of the accident have produced only minor changes in a handful of school districts across Canada.

"It makes me angry, and disappointed with our system, that so few changes have been implemented," says Mr. Causey.

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