Bus crash in Ottawa claims three lives

Dou­ble-decker hits bus shel­ter in icy con­di­tions

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - El­iz­a­bEth PaynE

• Three peo­ple are dead and 23 are in­jured, nine of them crit­i­cally, af­ter a dou­ble-decker city bus struck an Ottawa tran­sit shel­ter and par­tially sheered off the top of the bus.

The ac­ci­dent oc­curred at West­boro Sta­tion, a ma­jor bus sta­tion west of down­town, at about 3:50 p.m. Fri­day.

Po­lice ar­rested the fe­male driver at the scene.

“Some­thing led us” to ar­rest her, po­lice Chief Charles Borde­leau told an evening news con­fer­ence with­out pro­vid­ing more de­tail.

The dead in­cluded two pas­sen­gers on the bus and one per­son on the plat­form, the city’s mayor said.

One wit­ness said the OC Transpo bus, full of com­muters at rush hour, hit a patch of ice be­fore crash­ing into the side of the sta­tion. It struck a sign and then hit an over­hang on the side of the shel­ter. The dam­age “goes back about 10 rows,” the wit­ness said.

A woman who was on the bus vividly re­mem­bers the mo­ments be­fore the crash.

“I re­mem­ber hear­ing the bus driver say­ing, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God’,” she said, lit­tle more than an hour af­ter the crash oc­curred.

The woman, a mem­ber of the mil­i­tary, de­clined to give her name. “The bus was full, ev­ery seat was taken, plus there were peo­ple stand­ing in the mid­dle row, so they were fly­ing back.

“Peo­ple just started scream­ing. There was some kind of fluid leak­ing, so ev­ery­body just started jump­ing out of the win­dow in the seat that I was in.

“You couldn’t get out the doors. Two peo­ple, for sure, flew out of the top front, maybe more.”

“The bus driver, was fine, she was not in­jured. I hurt my knee and wrist but not bad,” the wit­ness said.

“There was noth­ing out of the or­di­nary (on the trip). It just hap­pened so fast. I would as­sume she hit the curb. It was pretty crazy.

“There was glass ev­ery­where. One guy I was help­ing, his foot was fac­ing the other way and he had blood all over his face. He was top left, sec­ond from the front.

“One per­son on the road was un­con­scious, the other one was con­scious but pretty beat up. It was aw­ful.”

An­other eye­wit­ness said she heard sirens, and when she looked over the rail­ing above the sta­tion she saw that “the whole top of the bus was to­talled.”

The top sec­tion of the front of the dou­ble-decker bus was smashed in by the shel­ter’s over­hang, all the way back to the stairs on the bus, so peo­ple were un­able to get down from the top floor, she said.

“I heard a lot of peo­ple scream­ing, try­ing to get off the bus. They were stuck in there.”

Emer­gency re­spon­ders were smash­ing the win­dows, yelling “Glass.”

They worked in -12 C tem­per­a­tures to free those who were trapped in the bus’s up­per level. Pas­sen­gers climbed out of win­dows and de­scended fire­fight­ers’ lad­ders.

“I couldn’t be­lieve it, me and my best friend fight to sit at the front of the bus. And now I’m just ... ter­ri­fied, it’s ab­so­lutely heart­break­ing,” said the eye­wit­ness.

She saw a man pulled from the bus, ban­daged and strapped to a board. “He was in pretty bad con­di­tion, I don’t even know how to de­scribe it, he had his head wrapped but there was a lot of blood.”

The bus was Route 269, head­ing to the western suburb of Kanata. One wit­ness said most of the pas­sen­gers were com­ing from the Rideau Cen­tre, Na­tional De­fence HQ stop.

“Most of the se­ri­ous in­juries were on the up­per-right side of the bus,” said Chief Borde­leau.

Road con­di­tions will be part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, he said. He asked wit­nesses to come for­ward.

“This will be a long in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” he added.

The Civic cam­pus of The Ottawa Hos­pi­tal de­clared a Code Orange at 4:37 p.m., for a dis­as­ter in the com­mu­nity. The hos­pi­tal said it re­ceived nine pa­tients in crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

The Queensway Car­leton Hos­pi­tal said it re­ceived one pa­tient by am­bu­lance and sev­eral walk-in pa­tients from the crash.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Wat­son tweeted he was shocked to hear of the “hor­rific in­ci­dent.”

“My first thoughts are with those who have been in­jured and their fam­i­lies. I have asked staff to en­sure all nec­es­sary re­sources are made avail­able to as­sist them through this dif­fi­cult time,” he said. “West­boro sta­tion is still an ac­tive emer­gency site, and I would ask res­i­dents to stay out of the way in or­der to as­sist first re­spon­ders with their work.”

In 2013, an Ottawa bus col­lided with a Via Rail train in sub­ur­ban Bar­rhaven, killing six peo­ple.


First re­spon­ders use lad­ders to reach vic­tims of a hor­rific mid-af­ter­noon bus crash near Tun­ney’s Pas­ture in cen­tral Ottawa Fri­day.


Po­lice and first re­spon­ders wheel away a vic­tim af­ter a dou­ble-decker city bus struck a tran­sit shel­ter in cen­tral Ottawa on Fri­day.


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