Police in Ottawa continue to pore over evidence as they try to figure out how a double-decker bus slammed into a bus shelter at the Westboro station late Friday afternoon, killing three people and injuring nearly two dozen more.
Crews worked into the night last night to piece together what caused the tragic incident. Ottawa police said their collisions investigation unit will remain at the scene into Saturday.
Police will be providing another update at 1 p.m. ET. CBC News will carry it live online.
As a result, a section of the Ottawa Transitway will remain closed today and police are blocking off nearby roads as they continue to investigate.
The city is still reeling after a westbound OC Transpo double-decker bus somehow lost control and hit the bus shelter at the start of Friday afternoon rush hour, a scene that witnesses described as “chaos.”
During a news conference Friday evening, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said two passengers and one person waiting on the platform died in the “horrific” crash, and 23 were injured.
Ottawa police said investigators have identified all three victims and have contacted their families and loved ones.
“That work continues this morning and no information on the identity of the three will be released at this time,” according to a Saturday news release.
As of 11 a.m. the Ottawa Hospital, speaking for the Civic and General campuses, said it has one patient in critical condition, six patients in serious condition, and four patients in stable condition, related to the collision.
The Queensway Carleton Hospital said eight patients were admitted Friday night. Seven have since been discharged and one remains in serious but stable condition. There were no patients taken to the CHEO, a pediatric health and research centre in Ottawa, indicating there were likely no children among the injured.
Police expect ‘a long investigation’
On Friday police Chief Charles Bordeleau said the bus driver involved in the crash was taken in for questioning, but was released later that night pending further investigation.
Bordeleau also said it was too early to speculate about the cause of the crash, but police would be reviewing video and interviewing as many witnesses as possible.
“This will be a long investigation,” Bordeleau said. “Our investigators will be working through the night and into the morning to document the scene.”
Due to the investigation, OC Transpo said its Saturday routes serving Westboro and Dominion stations are on detour between Lincoln Fields and Tunney’s Pasture stations. Police have also blocked off Scott Street between McRae and Athlone avenues to cars.
Officials from Transport Canada and Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation are also investigating.
Bus was ‘swerving’
Bilal Gill was at the back of the Route 269 bus — which doesn’t stop at the Westboro station in the afternoons and heads straight from Tunney’s Pasture to Bayshore — when the collision occurred.
“The bus started swerving, I guess it hit the curb or hit something. It started swerving, the driver couldn’t get control back and it just hit the Westboro shelter,” he said in an interview with CBC.
“A lot of people started screaming, people at the front who got pinned under their seats.”
Witnesses said first responders had to break windows and use ladders to free passengers trapped on the upper deck of the bus.
“There was definitely people pinned and there was a bit of blood on the floor,” Gill said. “It was chaos at first.”
OC Transpo general manager John Manconi told reporters the bus could have been holding as many as 90 passengers and that the agency would be co-operating fully with the investigation.
The family reunification centre at the Churchill Seniors Centre has since been closed, but people seeking information about family members involved in Friday’s crash can call the Canadian Red Cross at 1-855-797-8875.
Anyone who was involved in the Westboro incident and is looking to collect their belongings can call 613-236-1222 ext. 2481.
“We are receiving many calls and we ask for your patience as we try and help you retrieve your belongings,” police tweeted.