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18-year-old trying to get home for Christmas among those killed in B.C. bus crash

A teenager trying to get home to her family for the holidays has been identified as one of the four people killed in a rollover bus crash on an icy stretch of highway in B.C. on Christmas Eve.

Kathy Kim Le, 18, wanted to fly home for the holidays after visiting her best friend in Kelowna, B.C., but flights had been cancelled due to frigid, snowy weather.

“She ended up taking [the] bus against her family’s wishes,” read a message from Le’s uncle, Hung Pham, who confirmed his niece’s death to CBC News.

Le was one of four passengers who died when an Ebus coach travelling from Kelowna to Vancouver went off Highway 97C, crossed the median and flipped onto its side, coming to rest in the eastbound lanes.

It was dark, hailing and raining when the crash happened. Police, who believe icy road conditions played a role, said most of the 46 people on board were not wearing seatbelts.

Dozens were hospitalized for their injuries.

A teenager in a cap and gown sits for a portrait.
Kathy Kim Le, 18, is pictured in her high school graduation photo. Le was one of four passengers who died when an Ebus crashed en route from Kelowna to Vancouver on Christmas Eve. (Supplied by Hung Pham)

Pham said his niece graduated from Aldergrove Community Secondary School, the only high school in the small bedroom community east of Vancouver where her family lives. He said she was considering moving in with the friend she’d been visiting in Kelowna.

Pham said Le’s parents got word of their daughter’s death around 2 a.m. on Christmas Day. They spent the day praying for her during a ceremony at the Hoa Nghiem monastery.

He said the family has been disappointed by a lack of support or communication from Calgary-based Ebus.

The company’s president posted a brief statement offering his condolences online, but Pham said his relatives haven’t heard directly from staff.

“I would like to extend our deepest condolences to families and loves ones so heavily impacted by this tragic event last night,” wrote Ebus CEO Tom Jezersek in the Facebook post on Christmas Day.

“Our thoughts and sympathy are with those injured and grieving at this time.”

Police have not released the names of any of those who died.

In addition to Le, CBC News confirmed another passenger who died was Karanjot Singh Sodhi, 41, a married father-of-two who came to Canada late last year.

Karanjot Singh Sodhi photo
A co-worker remembers Karanjot Singh Sodhi, one of four people who died in a bus crash east of Merritt, B.C., on Christmas Eve, as someone who ‘almost never had a bad day.’ (Kulwinder Bans)

The RCMP said the bus remains in police custody as the investigation continues. The driver is co-operating with officers, according to a statement.

Anyone who witnessed the collision or who might have dashcam video of the bus before the crash is asked to contact investigators.

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