Brad Funk didn’t expect to see a mother duck crushed by a school bus when he left the house to pick up his daughter from school last Tuesday afternoon.
But that’s exactly what happened when, at about 3:45 p.m., he was stopped waiting for the mother duck and her ducklings to cross the Comox Valley Parkway.
“There were three of us (drivers) stopped because there was a mother duck and all her ducklings crossing the bypass (Comox Valley Parkway)…and I saw this school bus coming and it was coming quite fast,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “It did not slow down. It struck the mother duck, killing it, and just kept going, did not swerve, did not — nothing.
“The ducks were quite evident on the roadway. The mother duck and a bunch of the ducklings were already across the hump and he just came barrelling through and struck the mother and kept going.”
Funk and the other drivers were stopped near the Cumberland Road turnoff from the Parkway and he said the school bus was travelling west along the parkway.
After the bus hit the mother duck the drivers who had been waiting, watching the mother and her ducklings cross the road, got out of theirs cars to check on the struck duck and her babies.
“There were 10 or a dozen ducklings there who were all gathered around the mother as she was, you know, dying,” recalled Funk, noting he had to continue on the pick his daughter up from school, but the other drivers were picking up the ducklings to take them somewhere safe when he left.
He said the bus was short and yellow like a mini-school bus, but he couldn’t get the number on it and couldn’t tell if there were kids inside because the incident happened so quickly.
“I talked to the bus company and we didn’t have a bus in the area,” said Ian Heselgrave, Comox Valley School District director of operations. “All our buses are tracked by GPS, too…It tracks speed and where they are and all that stuff.”
He notes the bus could have been owned by one of the local organizations that run smaller yellow buses, or it could be from out of town.
“You can have other schools operate them, too — I mean this morning there’s a district track meet at Vanier and there’s school buses from Powell River and Campbell River and all that stuff,” he says, noting getting the bus number along with the exact time and location makes it easier to look into the incident.
Funk said he is most concerned about the speed of the bus, stressing he is absolutely sure the bus was over the 80-kilometre limit there. He added he’s seen buses speeding at other times, too.
“I do drive up and down the high way quite often and I have seen ones that are clearly marked being the school district exceeding the speed limit,” he said Wednesday after hearing that particular bus was not the Comox Valley School District’s bus.
Heselgrave noted he occasionally receives calls from the public about speeding school buses. He said the district always follows up and takes whatever action is required with drivers, but he said the district buses have a very good safety record.