Driver allegedly involved in collision before Friday’s deadly crash
Multiple transit supervisors expressed concerns about Aissatou Diallo’s suitability as an OC Transpo bus driver after two collisions on the road prior to Friday’s fatal crash at Westboro station, the
Sun has learned. And several operators are questioning how the transportation service is dealing with new driver road safety.
Aissatou Diallo, a driver who had been on the job for less than a year and remains on probation, was driving OC Transpo bus 269 en route to Kanata’s Bridlewood neighbourhood from downtown on Friday when the bus crashed into the overhang of the bus shelter at Westboro station just before 4 p.m.
The overhang sliced through the upper level of the double-decker bus.
Three people were killed and 23 were injured. Police say the 90-passenger bus was almost at full capacity.
Diallo was arrested at the scene, taken to police headquarters on Elgin Street and questioned before being released unconditionally Friday night.
While police have not publicly detailed why she was arrested, the Sun has learned that Diallo was allegedly not cooperative with police on scene and did not want to willingly go with police.
They felt she needed to be arrested in order to be properly detained and questioned.
Several Ottawa police officers have questioned on what grounds that arrest was made.
Diallo has not been charged with any crime or offence and police maintain that, right now, they have no grounds to believe any offence was committed.
A look at the evidence and facts will reveal what happened, police said in a Saturday news conference, and whether there were offences.
Chief Charles Bordeleau also urged the public to not “read into” the arrest.
Ottawa police collision investigators continue what police have called the “painstaking” process of piecing together what went wrong Friday afternoon.
That investigation will look at what witnesses have already described as possible factors in the crash — sun producing glare in a driver’s field of vision, reports of black and regular ice on the transitway — the possibility of mechanical failures and the speed of the bus.
All stations are equipped with video and a command centre can, at any time, determine the speed of any vehicle on the road, drivers have said.
Police will also be looking at Diallo’s driving record, which multiple sources say includes at least two other collisions in the months before the Westboro incident.
Police officers are aware of at least one of those collisions,
the Sun has learned. On Dec. 10, Diallo was driving a bus that collided with another bus at St. Laurent station. Both firefighters and police responded to that scene.
It’s not known if Diallo was found to be at fault for that collision, but she was then sent for further safety training, according to a source.
It’s not yet known what measures needed to be satisfied for her to return to the road.
In a statement to the Sun, police spokesman Const. Chuck Benoit said the force would not be addressing questions about any previous collisions involving the driver of the bus.
“The Westboro collision is an ongoing investigation and very complex,” Benoit said.
“We will not be able to comment on any person that is part of any ongoing investigations.”
The president of the union representing OC Transpo drivers refused to answer questions about Diallo’s driving record, her current status as a driver, when she was hired, what happens when a driver is involved in any collision (whether minor or serious,) or if any additional training is mandated when such an incident occurs.
Clint Crabtree also refused to answer questions about what the protocol is for drivers involved in a collision where police respond to the scene.
In a statement to Crabtree wrote: “We are deeply saddened about the tragic accident involving an OC Transpo bus on Friday, January 11, 2019.
He also thanked first responders “who quickly attended to the injured.”
The Sun has also learned that the union wasn’t aware that Diallo had been arrested on Friday until police announced it at a news conference.
Crabtree would not comment on whether Diallo has legal representation or what kind of mental health support is being offered to her and other drivers.
Citing an ongoing police investigation, the City of Ottawa and OC Transpo said Sunday they would only answer questions about the city’s protocol for drivers in collisions.
Those answers, the city said, were expected “this week.”
Towing crews remove the OC Transpo bus involved in Friday’s deadly crash at Westboro Station.