Fa­tal Ot­tawa bus crash has no easy an­swers: po­lice chief

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS I CANADA -

OT­TAWA — The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a deadly bus crash on a busy Ot­tawa route will not yield an­swers quickly, the city’s po­lice chief said Satur­day as he cau­tioned the pub­lic not to jump to con­clu­sions about the events lead­ing up to the col­li­sion.

Charles Borde­leau said of­fi­cers have plenty of work ahead of them as they probe the Fri­day af­ter­noon col­li­sion that killed three and in­jured 23 oth­ers.

The dou­ble-decker bus op­er­ated by lo­cal trans­porta­tion agency OC Transpo hopped a curb and struck a tran­sit shel­ter at about 3:50 p.m. just as rush hour be­gan. It plowed along a sta­tion plat­form and into the over­hang­ing roof of the tran­sit shel­ter, which carved deep into the ve­hi­cle’s up­per level and crushed a num­ber of seats.

The ma­jor­ity of the pa­tients in­jured in the crash have been re­leased from hos­pi­tal, po­lice said, with just one re­main­ing in crit­i­cal con­di­tion while six are listed as se­ri­ous and four are con­sid­ered sta­ble.

But Borde­leau said an­swers will be slow in com­ing as the po­lice tackle a mam­moth in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“There were 90 peo­ple on the bus, we have to speak to all of them,” Borde­leau said at a Satur­day af­ter­noon news con­fer­ence.

“It’s a slow, painstak­ing process. Our goal is to en­sure that we get it right.”

Borde­leau said the bus was at or near its full ca­pac­ity at the time of the col­li­sion. Sgt. Cameron Gra­ham, of the force’s col­li­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tion unit, said in­ves­ti­ga­tors would con­duct mul­ti­ple drone flights over the scene of the wreck­age, as well as gather data from the ve­hi­cle it­self and any avail­able video sur­veil­lance.

Borde­leau said the bus driver, ini­tially ar­rested hours af­ter the crash, has since been re­leased un­con­di­tion­ally pend­ing fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“It’s im­por­tant that the pub­lic does not read into the fact that she was ar­rested,” he said. “The rea­sons why we ar­rested her are part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, we’re not go­ing to get into that, but our in­ves­tiga­tive unit is out there col­lect­ing all the ev­i­dence and then we’ll see where it takes us.”

Borde­leau also backed away from pre­vi­ous re­ports that two of the those killed were pas­sen­gers on the bus, while the third was killed on the plat­form of West­boro sta­tion. Borde­leau said new in­for­ma­tion has sur­faced to chal­lenge that ac­count, but did not pro­vide fur­ther de­tails.

On­tario’s Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion and Trans­port Canada re­main in­volved in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, he added.

Shortly af­ter the crash, nei­ther Borde­leau nor Ot­tawa Mayor Jim Wat­son would spec­u­late on why the bus had left the road. De­spite mid-af­ter­noon tem­per­a­tures of about -15 C, it had not snowed in Ot­tawa Fri­day and the busway is treated as a top pri­or­ity for the city’s snow­plows, salters and sanders.

Politi­cians, in­clud­ing Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and On­tario Premier Doug Ford, is­sued pub­lic mes­sages of con­do­lence and sup­port.

“I want to send my deep­est con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies of vic­tims and ev­ery­one af­fected by to­day’s tragic bus crash in Ot­tawa. Thank you to the first re­spon­ders who rushed to help — we’re mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion closely,” Trudeau said in a tweet Fri­day evening.

This is the sec­ond deadly col­li­sion in­volv­ing a dou­ble-decker bus in Ot­tawa in the last six years.

In 2013, an­other Ot­tawa dou­ble-decker bus broke through a warn­ing gate and col­lided with a Via Rail train in sub­ur­ban Bar­rhaven, killing six peo­ple as the train sheared off the front of the ve­hi­cle. In that case, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that the cause was a com­bi­na­tion of ex­ces­sive speed, a dif­fi­cult curve be­fore the tracks and driver dis­trac­tion.

JUSTIN TANG / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A dou­ble-decker city bus struck a tran­sit shel­ter dur­ing Ot­tawa’s af­ter­noon rush hour Fri­day.

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