Saturday, January 8, 2011

Telegraph Journal: Mother of Bathurst crash victim says she's sick of playing waiting game

L-R: Delalene Harris-Foran, President CUPE 1253 and Isabelle Hains, mother of one of seven Bathurst High School students killed in a school van crash three years ago, answer questions during a press conference held December 1, 2010 at the Crowne Plaza in Fredericton. Photo by Shawn Berry
H5 Jeremy Trevors, Miramichi Leader

FREDERICTON - After nearly three years of waiting and with a close call last month, Delalene Harris Foran and Isabelle Hains are sick of playing a waiting game.

Click here to read original article in the Telegraph Journal.

Harris Foran, who is the president of the New Brunswick Council of School District Unions (CUPE 1253), is waiting for Education Minister Jody Carr to commit to introducing a coroner's inquest recommendation that only Class 2-B drivers transport children to extra-curricular activities.

The issue arose after a multi-function activity bus from Dalhousie was taking the École Aux Quatre Vents boys' hockey team from Miramichi back to Dalhousie Dec. 11. After the game, the bus wasn't handling properly. The driver, who trains others to drive school buses, inspected the bus just outside Beresford and discovered nuts were loose on the back wheels.

"I was kind of shocked," Harris Foran said.

"If it might have been a volunteer they may have thought it was the road or 'we're not used to driving vehicles like that.'"

She was glad the driver took the action he did and prevented an accident from occurring.

The driver did an inspection before leaving Dalhousie for Miramichi but found nothing wrong. The bus had been inspected on Nov. 30 and had new tires installed.

"We're checking up on it to see why [the bus] never went back to get the tires re-torqued," she said.

Hains has pushed to get bus rules in place since her son Daniel and six other members of the Bathurst High School Phantoms basketball team died when their passenger van collided with a transport truck in January 2008. "I feel this is very important that we have a professional driver driving the vehicle because it is a bus," Hains said.

"The government, I feel, has not taken the responsibility and their obligation to the students in the school system and given the responsibility to volunteers, when you wouldn't have volunteers driving the yellow school bus during the day," Hains explained.

Since the death of her son, Hains has had to deal with three different education ministers.

"Each minister, every time, we have to go through the whole cycle with them and give our concerns, it just seems like it takes...I don't know what it is with the government," she said, her frustration becoming apparent as she spoke through tears.

"When will the government open their eyes and see what they really need in protecting our children? And how far will they go to ignore everything that has been laid out in front of them?"

Hains is hoping after three years of fighting, new safety rules will be introduced.

"I hope that our government will put in place all the recommendations to keep the children safe."

Click here to read original article in the Telegraph Journal.