Coroner finds tire tread played role in fatal crash

46-year-old Oliver man died on impact after his vehicle crashed into school bus driven by pregnant teacher

The death of an Oliver man in a head-on collision with a school bus last year was due to poor road conditions and inadequate tread depth on his tires.

On June 7, 2011 at 5:40 p.m. John Freitas Borba was travelling northbound on Highway 97, just six kilometres north of Summerland. The 46-year-old man was negotiating a curve when he lost control of his red Chrysler Cirrus, hydroplaning into the southbound lane and hitting a school bus.

RCMP collision reconstructionists reported that the rear tires of Borba’s vehicle were below mandatory minimum as required by the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act regulations. The coroner report states it was an overcast afternoon with full daytime lighting conditions, but there was “an excessive amount of rain which had fallen just before the collision.” The inadequate tread depth for the road conditions was listed as a contributing factor by coroner Chico Newell, who classified the death as accidental.

“The RCMP collision reconstructionist stated it can be reasonably assumed that Mr. Borba lost control as a result of hydroplaning,” said Newell in the report.

The school bus was carrying 14 students and one teacher from Princess Margaret Secondary School who were returning from a field trip in Kelowna. An Olds Alero travelling in the outside lane beside the school bus was sideswiped as the bus driver attempted to avoid collision with the vehicle driven by Borba.

One student was airlifted to Kelowna General Hospital while others suffered non-life threatening injuries in the accident. The teacher driving the bus, who was pregnant, was taken to hospital but both her and the baby were fine. Newell said in his report that Borba was killed on impact.

Borba, who worked at the Penticton Lakeside Casino, was known for his sense of humour and big smile. The Oliver man volunteered his time with the Knights of Columbus, the CNIB, Big Brothers and the Catholic Church Youth Group.