‘PEOPLE JUST STARTED SCREAMING’
Three killed in Ottawa bus crash
OTTAWA • 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.