Po­lice begin ‘painstak­ing’ in­ves­ti­ga­tion into hor­ren­dous crash


SUN­DAY, JAN­UARY 13, 2019

In­ves­ti­ga­tors from three levels of gov­ern­ment spent Satur­day try­ing to piece to­gether the cause of the OC Transpo bus crash at West­boro Transitway sta­tion that left three peo­ple dead and 23 in­jured.

The wrecked dou­ble-decker bus was towed from the sta­tion Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Ot­tawa po­lice col­li­sion unit in­ves­ti­ga­tors re­main at the heart of the com­pli­cated probe into why the packed bus, en route to Kanata, left the road and smashed into the sta­tion Fri­day. It struck the sta­tion’s over­hang­ing weather cover, de­stroy­ing most of the bus’s up­per level.

At a news con­fer­ence, Chief Charles Borde­leau stressed the com­pli­cated na­ture of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and said po­lice were de­ter­mined to go through it “step by step.”

Although the driver of the dou­ble-decker bus was taken into cus­tody at the scene, she was re­leased un­con­di­tion­ally pend­ing fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion on Fri­day night.

Borde­leau urged peo­ple “not to read any­thing into” the driver’s ar­rest and ques­tion­ing.

Borde­leau said provin­cial and fed­eral trans­porta­tion ex­perts were on the scene, but Ot­tawa po­lice led the in­quiry.

Sgt. Cameron Gra­ham, who over­sees col­li­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tions, said the spe­cial­ized unit would fly drones over the scene to get ae­rial pho­tos.

A large part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion will fo­cus on what po­lice call hu­man fac­tors. That will in­clude look­ing at the driver, her driv­ing record, her med­i­cal record and whether she was dis­tracted at the time of the crash.

Borde­leau called it a “painstak­ing” process.

“This will be a slow process, but at the end of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, we will have de­ter­mined ex­actly what took place,” the chief said.

Once in­ves­ti­ga­tors clear the scene, the sta­tion will likely need more cleanup and re­pair.

The Ot­tawa Hospi­tal re­ported it still had one pa­tient in crit­i­cal con­di­tion, six in se­ri­ous con­di­tion and four sta­ble. The hospi­tal re­ported Fri­day night it got 18 pa­tients at two of its cen­tres, nine of them judged to be in crit­i­cal con­di­tion. The Queensway Car­leton Hospi­tal said seven of the eight pa­tients ad­mit­ted Fri­day night were dis­charged, but one re­mained in se­ri­ous con­di­tion.

In an early morn­ing news re­lease, Ot­tawa po­lice said in­ves­ti­ga­tors worked through the night to iden­tify the three vic­tims on bus, which was west­bound on OC Transpo’s Route 269, and to no­tify their fam­i­lies and loved ones.

The performance of the dou­ble-decker buses is one of many con­sid­er­a­tions of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, po­lice said.

The city be­gan look­ing into buy­ing dou­ble-decker buses more than a dozen years ago, seeking to den­sify routes and give rid­ers a bet­ter tran­sit ex­pe­ri­ence.

Key con­sid­er­a­tions in­cluded the fact that buses of­fered tow­er­ing views of the streetscape from the up­per level and had more seats than the ar­tic­u­lated buses then used as high-ca­pac­ity tran­sit ve­hi­cles. The shorter dou­ble-decker buses also took up less space at bus stops.

Soon after the city took its first batch of dou­ble-deck­ers in 2013, the union rep­re­sent­ing driv­ers flagged con­cerns about performance dur­ing high winds after two dou­ble-deck­ers were pushed off the road. There have also been ex­haust leaks and con­den­sa­tion is­sues.

After the crash, a vet­eran driver told the Sun op­er­a­tors are specif­i­cally warned to avoid the over­hangs on the Transitway sta­tions when be­hind the wheel of a dou­ble-decker.

Po­lice an­nounced Satur­day evening that the col­li­sions unit had com­pleted its doc­u­men­ta­tion of the crash scene and had re­opened the lo­cal roads around the Transitway.

Ot­tawa po­lice con­tinue to in­ter­view wit­nesses and urge any­one who left the scene after the crash or has in­for­ma­tion about it to call po­lice at 613-236-1222, ext. 2481.

Anony­mous tips can be sub­mit­ted by calling Crime Stop­pers toll-free at 1-800222-8477, or by down­load­ing the Ot­tawa po­lice app.


Ot­tawa po­lice Chief Charles Borde­leau speaks along­side col­li­sions boss Sgt. Cameron Gra­ham yesterday. In­set, of­fi­cials from Trans­port Canada in­ves­ti­gate the crash site yesterday be­fore the bus was towed away.

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