|B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone has ordered an investigation into Greyhound Lines after a bus driver abandoned two girls at a small community gas station in the middle of the night.|
“No reasonable individual would leave two children in a potentially unsafe location on the side of the road,” Mr. Stone told reporters Thursday. Chelsea Kazakoff, 12, and Jessie Kazakoff, 16, were visiting their mother in Prince George over spring break and they boarded a bus on Sunday, April 3, to return to their father’s home in Red Deer, Alberta. They expected to be back in their classrooms the next day.
|The sisters had to change buses in the B.C. village of Valemount, where the Greyhound ticket booth is located inside a gas station. It was 3:45 a.m. when their second bus arrived. The driver determined that the girls’ tickets had expired and, according to a statement from Greyhound, the bus was full.|
The driver left the two girls at the station to wait for another bus that was scheduled to arrive at 6:30 a.m.
That route meant going through Kamloops and then Calgary before a bus would eventually get them home at 2:45 a.m. the next day.
|“They were really scared,” a family friend said. “That location is isolated and dangerous, known for young women going missing. It’s ludicrous they were left there.”|
The village is close to Highway 16, also known as the Highway of Tears, that stretches 800 kilometres between Prince Rupert and Prince George. Since the 1970s, at least 18 women and girls have been murdered or have gone missing along Highway 16. The girls telephoned their mother and she found a friend willing to drive three hours from Prince George to Valemount to pick them up.
|Stone said that as a father, he found the details disturbing. “I have got to tell you, as someone with three young daughters of my own, I just cannot imagine finding out that my children were left on the side of the road in the middle of the night because of an invalid ticket. We’re going to get to the bottom of this.”|
Stone said investigators will determine if the company violated provincial regulations that prohibit bus and taxi drivers from refusing service to vulnerable passengers. “There are very specific provisions in the Passenger Transportation Act that say clearly a carrier cannot leave individuals, particularly children, in unsafe locations,” he said.