Police say that drugs and alcohol might have been a factor in the death of a 17-year-old male who rode on a party bus with friends Friday evening.
Surrey RCMP received a call from emergency health services at around 11 p.m. that evening. Paramedics had initially responded to a call at a Surrey Chevron Station at 152nd street and 72nd Avenue, RCMP Staff Sergeant Bob Pinkewycz says. Police found the teenager and a vehicle nearby.
Staff Sgt. Pinkewycz could not confirm whether the young man died on the vehicle or why the driver decided to stop at the gas station.
He said that police have taken statements from 43 people, and the riders on the bus ranged in age from 17 to 21.
The Globe and Mail has learned that the vehicle belonged to a company called Favori Limousine Service.
The exact number of people on the vehicle could not be confirmed, nor could the make or model of the vehicle.
According to Favori’s website, the company offers vehicles ranging from stretch limos to “Party Bus 50,” a large coach bus.
B.C. law states that passengers in a moving vehicle cannot consume alcohol.
Friday’s incident is not the first time police have been involved in incidents involving party buses.
In July 2012, a fight involving high-school graduates on a party bus and another motorist sent six people to hospital. Police said at the time they believed alcohol had fuelled the incident.
Earlier that year, a party bus in Kelowna was taken off the road after RCMP officers found open liquor on it.
In 2010, two teenaged girls fell out of the side door of a party bus in Langley. One of the girls was knocked unconscious. RCMP officers found alcohol on that bus as well.
Several party-bus companies contacted by The Globe and Mail said that while they have strict no-alcohol policies, enforcing them can be challenging.
“Limo buses can carry anywhere up to 30 to 45 people and there is usually just one person, who is the driver, that is responsible for the safety of all of those passengers,” said Stacy Kay, client services manager at partybuses.ca, a Vancouver-based limousine company.
Kyle Benzie, the CEO of operations at PartyBus.com, said in an e-mail that during the years he worked as a party bus driver in the Vancouver market, about half the clientele he picked up tried to bring alcohol aboard.
“Sometimes they would try and bring pop bottles that they had previously mixed alcohol into,” he said, even though the company he was employed by prohibited alcohol in any of their vehicles, regardless of age.
Party buses have become increasingly popular in the past few years for high-school proms, as well as for weddings.
According to Mr. Benzie, whose business rents vehicles from other companies for his clients, nothing exists in the contracts between those companies and renters that stipulate an adult must be present on a party bus.
Surrey RCMP said they are continuing to investigate Friday night’s death.