Kamloops Blazers president remembers 1974 team bus crash

By Earl Seitz/Adam Donnelly
April 10, 2018 - 4:56pm Updated: April 10, 2018 - 5:56pm

KAMLOOPS — In December of 1974 Don Moores was an 18-year old forward with the Kamloops Chiefs in what was then known as the Western Canada Hockey League.

The team had played a Saturday night game in Edmonton, against the Oil Kings, and was on the way home, when it happened.   

In the cold wee hours of a December 29th morning, 1974, near Tete Jaune Cache, B.C..

"You remember it vividly, expecially with what's happened in Humboldt, " says Don Moores, who is now the president and COO of the Kamloops Blazers.

A deer on the road in front of the bus, and black ice ---- not a winning combination.

 "The bus driver yelled 'look out!'   All I remember is a big bang, the bus literally spinning right around, rolling, and then going into the ditch on its side," says Moores.  "The bus is turned on its side, you're seeing people that are flying all over the place. What you don't realize is that when a bus is on its side, to get out the windows at the top, you can't reach it. You're only way out is literally through the front."

That was where the Barry Melrose factor, a defenceman on the team, came into play.

"He was literally in the wheel well, talking to the bus driver because he couldn't sleep --- when the bus turned and rolled, the windshield popped out and he (Melrose) rolled out onto the snowbank." says Don Moores.

Where that front window had been, became the teams only escape.

In the middle of nowhere, 3 o'clock in the morning, minus-25 degrees, and no traffic.   

This was 1974, before cell phones, so there are no pictures, and no way to call for help.

It was 45 minutes before another vehicle came along and took the most seriously injured to hospital in Jasper.

After the bus rolled and came to a standstill, in a scene of chaos, there were lighter moments.

"Well actually I was standing on Mel Zingers (Chiefs forward) head --- he was saying, hey, get off my head Hammer." says Moores. "In those days we had eight tracks, so the eight track would play all night ---  we had the Beach Boys on and Let's Go Surfin' Now was still playing as we were rolling over."

When looking at Swift Current in 1986 and Humboldt last Friday Don Moores says they were truely blessed that early December morning in 1974.  

There were injuries ----- a few broken bones and cuts and bruises ----- but only one casualty.  

The deer didn't make it.

 

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