OTTAWA — Three people were killed and 23 injured when a double-decker city bus struck a transit shelter in Ottawa on Friday afternoon, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says.
The driver of the bus was arrested at the scene, Chief Charles Bordeleau of the Ottawa police added at an evening news conference at Ottawa city hall. He wouldn’t say why she was detained rather than submitting to questions voluntarily.
“Something led us to having to arrest the individual and take them to the station,” Bordeleau said.
The crash took place west of downtown at 3:50 p.m., at the beginning of rush hour, just as dusk was beginning to settle on the coldest day of the winter so far in the capital. The bus was westbound for Kanata, a more distant Ottawa suburb, Watson said.
Two of the dead were riding the bus; one was on the platform at Westboro station, a major stop on the city’s busway, he said.
Photos posted on Twitter showed extensive damage to the front of the bus, with the roof of a shelter having carved deep into the vehicle’s second deck after the vehicle jumped the curb and plowed along the platform.
“Most of the serious injuries were on the upper-right side of the bus,” Bordeleau said. “I want to express my sorrow and condolences of the Ottawa police service and other emergency services.”
Paramedics said a total of 25 people were taken to hospital, suggesting one of the victims could not be revived at the scene and the other two died after arriving. Of those transported, 14 were in critical condition and 11 were in serious condition, paramedic chief Myles Cassidy said in the news conference.
The investigation will take a long time and likely will mean the closure of the busway and nearby roads for at least many hours, Bordeleau said.
Gabe Rivett-Carnac arrived at Westboro station on a double-decker bus himself about an hour before the crash. He was in his apartment across the street from the station when he started hearing sirens just after 4 p.m.
He went outside and came across a “chaotic” scene, with at least 30 emergency vehicles, including seven or eight fire trucks, and lots of police and bystanders, he said.
“You could see the entire front portion of the bus had been demolished or cut away, and firefighters were on ladders cutting out the top floor windows,” he said. “I saw one person being lowered from the top floor in a seated position.”
He said he could tell there would be deaths given the devastation at the scene.
“Based on the way it looked, if there was anybody at the front of the bus at the top. I can’t see how they would’ve been able to get away from that,” he said.
His partner usually gets off the bus at that station when coming home from work but she hadn’t gone in on Friday, he said, and now they’re checking in with all their family and friends who live in the area to see if they’re OK.
“You get a knot in the pit of your stomach. I felt like vomiting a couple of times. It’s not a comfortable thing to witness and I can’t imagine experiencing it.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he was devastated to hear of those who were killed and injured in the bus collision.
Devastated to hear about those who lost their lives and were injured following the horrific bus collision at Westboro Station in Ottawa. My thoughts are with the victims and their families this evening. Thank you to the first responders who are working to help all those affected.
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) January 11, 2019
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson tweeted he was shocked to hear of the “horrific incident.”
“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,” he said. “Westboro station is still an active emergency site, and I would ask residents to stay out of the way in order to assist first responders with their work.”
Westboro station is still an active emergency site, and I would ask residents to stay out of the way in order to assist first responders with their work. All busses are being detoured onto Scott Street. 2/2 https://t.co/fBfDkE86v9
— Jim Watson (@JimWatsonOttawa) January 11, 2019