A 70-year old woman from Ephrata Township in Pennsylvania was killed in a bus crash last week. The accident took place on a tour of Canada that the woman was taking with her husband. Joyce Bowers was a former food service worker in the Ephrata Area School District. She had worked there for 27 years before retiring. She and her husband Dave would have been married for 52 years this coming December.

The Bowers were traveling with 19 other people on board an Executive Coach bus, travelling on a ten-day tour that took them from their local area in Pennsylvania north to the state of Maine, then up to Canada for a tour of Saint John, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The group was touring Cape Breton on the day of the accident, which is still under investigation.

According to 51-year old Tracey Smay, a resident of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania who was on the trip with her mother, “It went from being really enjoyable to just chaos. Those of us who were sitting behind the driver were catapulted to the other side.” Smay explained that the bus had run off of the road and then rolled onto its side. She went on to praise rescue workers, who arrived and began helping within a matter of minutes.  All of the people riding the bus, most of whom were from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, were taken to four local hospitals. Six of them required overnight stays, with two in serious but stable condition.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were investigating to determine what might have caused the accident. According to Police Corporal Scott MacRae, the bus had already been subjected to a mechanical inspection and the weather did not appear to have been a factor. He also indicated that the stretch of road where the accident occurred was completely straight.

67-year old Stanley Szalak, for whom this trip was his third with Westlake Tours, is anxious to hear what the results of the investigation are. He points out that it was the owner of Westlake Tours who was behind the wheel of the Executive Coach tour bus when the accident occurred. Dale McMichael, the vice president of Executive Coach, says this is the first accident that the firm has ever had that involved a fatality. “I talked to a few passengers but none of them had an explanation for what could have caused the accident,” he said. “The process is going forward to get people the help they need regardless of whether we know the cause.”

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