Sev­eral deaths in bus crash

Three dead in dou­bledecker bus crash at West­boro Sta­tion, with al­most two dozen hurt

North Bay Nugget - - OPINION - EL­IZ­A­BETH Payne

three peo­ple are dead and 23 were in­jured Fri­day af­ter­noon after a west­bound dou­ble-decker oc transpo bus filled with com­muters smashed into a bus shel­ter at West­boro Sta­tion in ot­tawa.

the ex­tent of the in­juries of those who sur­vived is not yet known.

Ma­jor Jim Wat­son said in a press con­fer­ence that two peo­ple died while on the bus, while the other died stand­ing on the shel­ter plat­form. twenty-three oth­ers were in­jured.

Po­lice Chief Charles Borde­leau said the fe­male driver of the bus was ar­rested and taken in for ques­tion­ing. “Some­thing led us” to ar­rest her, he said. he asked any wit­nesses to con­tact po­lice.

Pho­tos taken by wit­nesses on the scene showed the front of the bus smashed in and vic­tims ly­ing on the ground. the crash hap­pened at 3:50 p.m.

Mul­ti­ple first re­spon­ders rushed to the scene. Paramedics said the crash in­volved mul­ti­ple in­juries and some of the in­juries were crit­i­cal. one per­son was be­ing treated at the scene.

Coun. Jeff Leiper said more than a dozen peo­ple have been taken to hospi­tal. First re­spon­ders used lad­ders to get to the dam­aged second floor of the bus.

In a brief state­ment to re­porters at the scene, Borde­leau con­firmed the crash in­volved a west­bound route 269 bus bound for Kanata.

“as a re­sult of the col­li­sion, we have a num­ber of in­juries and some fa­tal­i­ties that oc­curred,” he said. “the ot­tawa Po­lice Ser­vice re­sponded in part­ner­ship with the ot­tawa Para­medic Ser­vices and the ot­tawa Fire Ser­vice where they ren­dered im­me­di­ate help to the vic­tims and the pas­sen­gers on the bus and on the plat­form.”

the bus took off part of the shel­ter’s struc­ture, said a para­medic. one wit­ness de­scribed half of the second story of the bus be­ing gone.

the Civic cam­pus of the ot­tawa hospi­tal declared a Code or­ange at 4:37 p.m. the hospi­tal would call a Code or­ange in the event of 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.

the num­ber of fa­tal­i­ties was con­firmed as of early Fri­day evening.

as mul­ti­ple am­bu­lances, po­lice and fire­fight­ers rushed to the scene, oc transpo was asked to stop send­ing buses into the transitway to make it eas­ier for first re­spon­ders to ac­cess vic­tims.

one eye­wit­ness who pre­ferred not to be named de­scribed the bus driver hit­ting ice, which launched the bus into the side of the West­boro tran­sit sta­tion, tak­ing out a sign and then hit­ting an over­hang on the side of the shel­ter.

the dam­age “goes back about 10 rows.” the wit­ness said the bus was full and the col­li­sion was “very se­ri­ous.”

a woman that 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 told Post­media a 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.

“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. “I’m wor­ried about those peo­ple. Most of the peo­ple on that bus were com­ing from the rideau Cen­tre, (national de­fence) hq stop.”

Sev­eral wit­nesses de­scribed a scene eerily sim­i­lar to a 2013 bus­train crash that killed six peo­ple. Pho­tos showed in­jured pas­sen­gers ly­ing on the ground be­ing treated.

an eye­wit­ness said she saw at least 15 emer­gency vehicle rush­ing down Scott Street to­ward the crash. 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.”

“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.”

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.”

“I was shocked to hear of this hor­rific in­ci­dent at West­boro Sta­tion,” said Wat­son in a state­ment on twit­ter. “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.”

JUSTIN TANG/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Po­lice and first re­spon­ders work at the scene where a dou­ble-decker city bus struck a tran­sit shel­ter Fri­day in Ot­tawa.

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