Tragic news out of Canada: the CBC reported that an Ottawa city bus crashed with a Via passenger train leaving five men and one woman dead. The scene has been cleared, and officials have removed the bus for investigation.
The Ottawa transit system does not have a noteworthy history of accidents with regard to its buses or its bus drivers. The crash caused the bus’s front end to be entirely sheared off, and five people died at the scene including the driver. The sixth succumbed to injuries at the hospital. Over 30 other people were injured in the accident.
Twitter included some eyewitness images and heartfelt wishes:
— Darryl Praill (@ohpinion8ted) September 18, 2013
— Eric Leduc (@eric_leduc) September 18, 2013
Sad to hear this news out of Ottawa, wonder if the bus driver had something happen(stroke seizure heart attack etc) that caused the accident
— David Fellows (@SensGuyDave) September 18, 2013
The Ottawa bus driver hit the breaks, "but much too late" says Chad Mariage, who was on struck by train pic.twitter.com/daTqP5vmbm
— Jake Edmiston (@jakeedmiston) September 18, 2013
Transportation and Safety Board manager Rob Jonhston has said that 20 investigators will be looking at data from recorders on both the train and the bus and physical evidence recovered from the scene, and that “everything is on the table.” Ottawa police have already notified the six decedents’ families.
Eyewitness accounts tend to place the blame on the driver, who witnesses say did not brake at the rails until a second before the crash, and that passengers were yelling at him to brake. Ottawa city bus driver union president Craig Watson said that members were reeling from the death of their comrade, and that Ottawa City transport drivers now have concerns for potential rail crossing issues.
Ottawa’s mayor, Jim Watson, told reporters that the city manager would personally investigate as to whether the intersection should get an underpass or an overpass: “The whole issue of whether there should be an underpass or an overpass, we’re gathering all of that information. It was before my time as mayor, but I’ve asked for the city manager to gather that information and provide it to the Transportation Safety Board.” The city of Ottawa had planned in the past to build an underpass at the location, but had decided against it because it would cost $80 million.
[Image via a 1-minute YouTube news report of the incident]