Three people killed, 23 injured in Ottawa bus crash
Amanda Coletta, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Friday, January 11, 2019 4:34PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 11, 2019 11:30PM EST
Three people were killed and 23 others injured when an Ottawa transit bus crashed into a shelter at the city’s Westboro Station on Friday.
Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said officers are trying to determine what caused the collision, adding that the weather – icy roads and bitter cold – could be a factor. However, he also said the driver of the bus had been detained for questioning.
“Something led us to having to arrest the individual,” Bordeleau said, without elaborating.
Two of the dead were on the bus and the other was on the platform, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said.
Fourteen of the injured are in critical condition, according to Miles Cassidy, the chief of Ottawa’s paramedic services. Many suffered blunt trauma.
The incident occurred just before 4 p.m. on Friday, when a double-decker bus bound for the Bridlewood neighbourhood in Kanata inexplicably swerved off the road and struck a bus shelter at the Westboro Station. The force of the impact tore through the bus’s upper level, trapping many of the passengers inside.
The route doesn’t usually stop at Westboro station and express buses often pass through at high speeds.
“Our hearts and condolences go out to all those injured, those family members who have lost loved ones and their families,” Watson said. “Our thoughts are also with the others on that bus, at that station, those directly involved and those who witnessed the collision.”
Residents looking for information about family members should go to the Churchill Seniors Centre at 345 Richmond Road, Watson said. They can also contact the Red Cross at 1-855-797-8875.
Andrew Borle, an eyewitness, told CTV Ottawa that the bus appeared to be crowded at the time of the collision.
“I saw bodies flying out and it was pretty intense at the time,” Borle said. “People were screaming. I saw two or three bodies flying through the windshield of the bus.”
The Ottawa Hospital, which is treating some of the victims, declared a code orange, which is called when there is a disaster in the community.
John Manconi, the general manager of OC Transpo, which runs Ottawa’s public transit system, said that at least 90 people could have been on the bus. Buses are being detoured from the area so that police officers can conduct an investigation.
“The safety and the security of our transit system and our riders is our top priority,” he said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a tweet that he was offering his “deepest condolences to the families of victims” and thanked first responders.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford thanked the first responders in a tweet, too, and said that he was “devastated to hear about those who lost their lives and were injured.”
Gabriel Rivett-Carnac, an eyewitness who lives across the street from the station, told CTV News’ Annie Bergeron-Oliver that “an unusual number of sirens” alerted him to the incident. He saw first responders cutting out seats and windows from the top floor of the bus and described the front of the bus as being “essentially cut off” or “demolished.”
“I haven’t seen something of this magnitude before,” he said. “It’s unnerving. I had gotten off a double-decker bus right here an hour before.”
Josh Chamberlain was on a bus pulling into the station and witnessed the aftermath of the collision. He told CTV News Channel that his bus driver warned the passengers on his bus, saying, “Brace yourself. There’s an accident up ahead and it’s a bad one, so we’re going to be waiting here for a while.”
Brad Muir, a retired sergeant with the Ontario Provincial Police and a collision reconstruction consultant, told CTV News Channel that investigators will be downloading electronic data from the bus and reviewing eyewitness statements, road conditions and video camera surveillance.
Police officers, he added, have experience conducting this type of investigation, particularly following an incident in 2013 when an OC Transpo double-decker bus crashed into a Via Rail passenger train in the Ottawa suburb of Barrhaven, killing five passengers and the driver.
A Transportation Safety Board investigation into the Barrhaven incident concluded in 2015 that the driver of the bus was likely distracted by a video screen that he was required to monitor on the job. It called for the addition of bumpers to double-decker buses, but found that double-decker buses were otherwise safe.
Manconi said that all buses built since the TSB's report are outfitted with bumpers, but he could not say whether the bus involved in Friday's collision was one of them.