Greenland athletes heading home from the Arctic Winter Games had to exit their bus through an emergency escape window when it went off the road between Hay River and Yellowknife.

The bus was a 20-minute drive outside Yellowknife when the accident occurred at 11:15pm on Saturday.

Passenger Sarah Pruys, who boarded the bus alongside the Greenland team, shot video of the athletes as they descended from the bus, which slid into a roadside ditch on Highway 3.

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Pruys said no injuries were immediately apparent. “A couple of bruises but other than that everyone was in good spirits,” she told Cabin Radio.

“The door wouldn’t open because the snow was really deep and we were quite close to the rocks.”

‘They had pizza’

Most of the North and South Slave regions had been under a snowfall warning for 24 hours before the bus made its journey, with Environment Canada warning of difficult driving conditions. However, Pruys said the road appeared “pretty clear” at the time of the incident.

As a number of buses were travelling in convoy, another vehicle was available for the athletes to board and resume their journey.

“We all crowded onto a second bus, then a third bus came and a couple kids got onto that one,” said Pruys. “We also had to unload all the luggage so we were there for just over 45 minutes.

“We weren’t cold and there was food, they had pizza and prepackaged meals the cafeteria in Hay River had handed out.

“It went as smoothly as I think you could expect for something like this.”

RCMP arrived at around midnight, according to Pruys, and the athletes were able to resume their journey shortly afterward.

Buses had been up to 90 minutes delayed heading out of Hay River after Saturday’s closing ceremony, but Cabin Radio understands the Greenland team was able to successfully complete its departure from the Northwest Territories.

Some contingents – such as Greenland – chose to fly to and from Yellowknife and use buses to connect with Hay River and Fort Smith for the Games, instead of additional flights across Great Slave Lake.