Wednesday, 18 September 2013


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

National Post Staff | 18/09/13 | Last Updated: 18/09/13 11:49 AM ET
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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. Witnesses say the bus appeared to run through warning symbols at a train crossing.

The accident occurred just outside a suburban Via Rail station. The train tracks cross both a major city street and a transit line for buses.

Via Train 51 left for Toronto from Ottawa Station, shortly after 8:30 a.m. The train originated from Montreal.

Eleven people were rushed to hospital in critical condition.

“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 is severely damaged, images from the scene near Woodroffe Avenue and Fallowfield Road show. Witnesses say the front part of the 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.

“Boom! It went into the train like that,” Lolgis said. “He didn’t stop. He must have lost his brakes. Or he had an … attack or whatever.

“He just didn’t stop. He just keep going like that. Then he get hit.”

The front end of Train 51 on the ground. The side of the locomotive cab was struck by the bus. The head end crew must have seen what was coming and they were powerless to do anything to prevent the collision. Nonetheless the locomotive crew has to live and bear with the burden of consequences beyond their control.

Gregory Mech, who was on top-level the bus, told CBC News that passengers were screaming for the driver to stop after he took a nearby turn.

“It just didn’t feel right,” he said. He said he thought there were about 10 people who were dead or severely injured.

“I could see there were bodies on the train tracks. It was horrible.” 

Fire services said at least two or three of the train’s cars are off the tracks, and that all of the casualties are on the bus, with no injuries on the train. The train came to a halt about 100 metres west of the accident site.

The double-decker buses can hold up to 82 people.

A number of the injured have been taken to the Ottawa Hospital. At least three people where admitted to the Civic campus of the Ottawa Hospital in critical condition, the Ottawa Citizen reports. 

Fire Services spokesperson Marc Messier said he not believe any children were among those involved in the accident.

Emergency services are working to clear the roadway. The Transportation Safety Board are en route to the scene. Air ambulances have been dispatched in Toronto.

Ottawa’s Emergency Operations Centre has been activated, Mayor Jim Watson tweeted. The city’s flags have been ordered to half-mast.

“A number of agencies will be looking into what transpired this morning, including the Ottawa Police, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and the Coroner, but our focus as a City today is to care for those families who have lost a loved one as well as ensure we provide the best possible care for those who have been injured and affected by the accident,” Watson said in a statement.

All trains on the Ottawa-Toronto route are cancelled for the day. Chartered buses will run the route for the rest of the day, VIA Rail said.


Only yesterday I had received Via Rail's "Crazy Tuesdays" e-mail offering very low fares between Toronto and various destinations. I had actually pondered taking advantage of the $26.00 one-way fares offered to make a same-day return train trip to Ottawa today. 

That idea was quickly dismissed as travel to a destination too far, on a day too soon in case of unexpected health issues, (recovering from a heart attack) never considering the possibilities of other things going wrong.

If I had chosen to go, then of course I would not have been on either the train or bus involved in the accident, however, I would certainly have been on one of the trains delayed or cancelled en route.

The Oddblock Station Agent

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