Counting Their Blessings – More on Reckingen Switzerland Bus Crash Victims by Brad Barker – Cornwall Ontario – June 19, 2010


Cornwall ON – By now, most have heard and or read about the tragic accident in Switzerland involving a busload of Canadians, with the majority of the group participating in Jolly Tours’ Grand Alpine Tour hailing from this area.  In the ordeal a Brockville couple, David and Joan Johnston, lost their lives.

According to a still very shaken lady who occupied a bus seat right in front of the now deceased couple, a series of curious events led up to their actual demise.  For clarity we’ll refer to my friend as Mabel.  The Johnston’s indicated that they’ve always chosen not to sit in the back row of any bus they’ve journeyed on.  For this trip, however, they thought that they’d avoid a lot of shuffling by choosing the back row, so they did.

Some fellow passengers overheard the couple talking about how they decided to finalize their funeral arrangements, including selecting funeral music, just prior to embarking on the journey.  Joan was overheard asking her husband what he’d do should she die before him.  Without missing a beat he replied that she should not worry about it as he knew that the couple would pass from this life to the next together.

In describing the crash, Mabel shared that the bus rolled and slid down the slope slowly, allowing time for her to shield her face from the window to avoid facial cuts.  Her arm suffered some lacerations, but she says she’s “fine.” She couldn’t say for sure what role the group of motorcyclists following the bus might have played.

Mabel also shared that the sojourners were dispersed among 5 area hospitals in proximity of the crash site, hers being about 60 miles away – a 35 minute ambulance ride.   Some of the group has yet to be released from hospital.  It is reported that at least one member of the tour won’t be released by Swiss doctors without assurance that a hospital bed here is available.

None in the group continued their journey, not even for the famous rendition of the Passion that was to be the highlight of the excursion.  It remains to be seen how much of the almost $5,000 per person tour fee might be reimbursed by insurance.

Mabel was pleased that the group was kept together at the same hotels and motels after the crash and was grateful to the embassy staff who arranged a direct flight home for those who were able to journey Monday.  Those who were injured were assigned aisle seats on the flight home to help increase their comfort.

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