Impaired driving not cause of fatal Ottawa bus crash: police investigators

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson offered his sincere condolences to the families of the three people who died after a double-decker bus crashed into a shelter at the Westboro transit station on Friday. He asks Ottawa residents to continue praying for those injured still in hospital.

Police investigators probing the possible causes of Friday’s fatal double-decker bus crash at Westboro transit station have ruled out impaired driving as one of them, Ottawa police say.

Three people died and 23 more were injured — some critically — when a double-decker OC Transpo bus smashed into the overhang of a transit shelter at Westboro station around 3:50 p.m. on Friday, at the start of the afternoon rush hour.

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Police haven’t released many details on their investigation since Friday, noting it is still in its early stages and will be “long and complex and detailed.” Police say they’re examining a number of factors and conditions in their investigation — including the bus, the roadway, the weather and the driver’s actions.

But investigators have ruled out impaired driving from that list of possible causes, a spokesperson for the Ottawa police said.

Police have not publicly released the name of the driver, who was arrested at the scene shortly after the collision on Friday afternoon. She was brought in for questioning and later released, police said.

At a news conference on Saturday, Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau urged residents not to “read into” the driver’s arrest.

The Ottawa Police Service’s collision investigation unit is leading the probe into the crash.

Transportation Safety Board should investigate Ottawa bus crash, experts say

Since Friday, some experts have called for independent investigators to look into the cause of the crash. After an OC Transpo double-decker bus and Via Rail train collided in Barrhaven in 2013, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) was brought in to investigate because of the involvement of a train.

In response to a question during a brief media availability at city hall on Monday afternoon, Mayor Jim Watson said he doesn’t think the TSB should be investigating Friday’s fatal crash.

“No, I think the expertise lies with the Ottawa Police Service,” Watson said. “I have full confidence they will do a thorough investigation and when appropriate, release as much information as possible so we can ensure that this hopefully never happens again.”

WATCH: TSB shouldn’t be involved in Ottawa bus crash investigation, Watson says

The TSB addressed questions about its involvement (or lack thereof) on Monday afternoon in a press release, saying its mandate is restricted to investigating incidents involving “air, marine, rail and pipeline modes.”

“The TSB is not mandated to investigate road accidents and therefore cannot undertake its own investigation into Friday’s bus accident,” the release said. “The TSB must respect the existing laws and jurisdictions. The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) is the lead investigation body into the causes of this accident.”

The release noted the independent agency has “reached out” to Ottawa police and the coronor’s office and offered the assistance of their technical experts.

“The TSB will stand-by ready to provide any assistance these organizations may require for their ongoing investigations,” the release said.

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The double-decker that crashed was on Route 269, headed towards Bridlewood, a neighbourhood in the south end of Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa. That bus normally doesn’t stop at the Westboro transit station on its afternoon run to Bridlewood.

The bus held around 90 passengers and police said on Saturday they believe it was near or at full capacity at the time of the crash.

Police on Monday identified the three victims of the collision as 56-year-old Bruce Thomlinson, 57-year-old Judy Booth, and 65-year-old Anja Van Beek.

– With files from The Canadian Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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