VIA train and Ottawa city bus collide during morning commute, six dead

VIA train and Ottawa city bus collide during morning commute, six dead

Six people are dead and about 30 were injured after a Via Rail train and an Ottawa city bus collided in the city’s southwest end Wednesday morning, officials have confirmed. Five people were pronounced dead on scene, while the sixth died in hospital. Eleven people were rushed to hospital in critical condition.

Witnesses say the bus appeared to run through warning symbols at a train crossing.

“People started screaming, ‘Stop, stop!’ because they could see the train coming down the track,” Tanner Trepaniere, who was sitting on the top level of the bus, said.

The front end of the double-decker OC Transpo bus was severely damaged, images from the scene near Woodroffe Avenue and Fallowfield Road show. Witnesses say the front part of the 76 Express bus was ripped off by the impact, which occurred in the middle of the morning commute, at about 8:50 a.m.

OC Transpo general manager John Manconi said they are investigating and do not know the cause of the collision.
Robert Kurtenbach, who was on the top level of the bus, told the Ottawa Citizen that the bus didn’t appear to slow down at all as the train went through the crossing.

He was thrown forward by the impact and twisted his leg, but said he wasn’t seriously injured.

“I could see bodies lying there,” he said. He said he could see “more than two or three” people that were severely injured and he could not see the driver at all.

Pascal Lolgis, who witnessed the crash, told The Canadian Press the bus drove through a lowered crossing barrier.


Via train and city bus crash in Ottawa, at least 6 dead, 30 injured

At least six people are dead and 30 others injured after a Via Rail train and an Ottawa city bus collided at a level crossing in the city's southwest end Wednesday morning.

Officials in Ottawa said five bus passengers were confirmed dead at the scene and another died in hospital after the train and a double-decker OC Transpo bus collided.

"We had bodies and debris pretty much everywhere at the impact site," Ottawa Fire Service's Marc Messier told CTV's News Channel Wednesday.

The crash happened at 8:48 a.m. ET near the intersection of Woodroffe Avenue and Fallowfield Road.

Messier said all the casualties occurred on the bus. There were passengers on the Via train at the time of the crash, he said, but no injuries were reported on the train.

He said the train derailed "approximately 100 to 200 feet down the rail."
"It’s definitely a serious scene," he said. "Our top priority is getting anyone with serious injuries to the hospital and getting them into proper care."
Photos from the scene show the front of the bus completely sheared off.
Rebecca Guilbeault was on the bus with her one-year-old son when the collision occurred.
She said she was texting her friend when other passengers began yelling at the bus driver to stop.
"As I looked up, the bus was coming into contact with the gate," she told CTV News.
"I don't know what happened," she said. "I don't know if the bus driver like blacked out, I don't know what happened but he didn't slow down and it just impacted with the train."
Guilbeault said she immediately ran off the bus with her son.
"I've seen a few people dead, someone ripped in half," Guilbeault said, breaking down in tears.
Ontario's air ambulance service ORNGE dispatched one helicopter from Toronto to the Ottawa crash scene.
The Transportation Safety Board will lead the investigation, with the help of Ottawa police and the coroner's office.
The City of Ottawa has set up a reunification centre at the Nepean Sportsplex for families affected by the accident.
Following the crash, 31 victims were transported to Ottawa-area hospitals, 11 of whom suffered critical injuries.
Those with the most serious injuries were rushed to Ottawa Civic Hospital, the regional trauma centre, and Queensway Carleton Hospital.
Dr. Andrew Falconer, Queensway Carleton Hospital Chief of Staff, said most of the crash victims have suffered leg injuries.
"It's definitely one of the worst events we've seen in this city or at this hospital," Falconer told reporters at the scene. "It's overwhelming to imagine the suffering that's going on."
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said city flags will fly at half-mast to honour the victims of the crash.
"Our focus as a city today is to care for those families who have lost a loved one as well to ensure we provide the best possible care for those who have been injured and affected by this accident," Watson said during a joint news conference Wednesday.
Asked if the crossing where the collision occurred was safe, a city official said all train crossings in Ottawa are considered safe.
OC Transpo general manager John Manconi said officials are still attempting to learn the details surrounding the crash.
“We’ll be working closely with all agencies as they determine circumstances what led to this collision,” he said.
Via Rail confirmed that its Train 51, which runs between Montreal and Toronto, was involved in the crash.
All Via train service on the Ottawa-Toronto route was cancelled following the collision, and passengers will be transported by bus.
A Via Rail billing agent told CTV News that passengers who were aboard the derailed Train 51 will be bussed to Toronto's Union station.
Officials are expected to hold another news conference at 4 p.m. ET.

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