SO MANY QUESTIONS
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.