The investigation continues as to why a respected, experienced driver failed to stop his double-decker city bus at a marked crossing, where multiple witnesses say the barrier arm was down.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has confirmed that the OC Transpo Route 76 bus struck Via Rail train 51 as the Toronto-bound passenger train crossed a bus transit way. The accident occurred as the west-bound train was slowing to enter the Fallowfield train station in Barrhaven, a residential suburb south-west of urban Ottawa.
Because of the investigation and damage to rail tracks, Via Rail service between Toronto and Ottawa has been affected. Some trains on that route are being replaced with bus service for now.
Just before 1 pm Thursday, official confirmation of those killed came by way of this press release:
The Ottawa Police Service has identified all six victims of yesterday’s collision on the Transitway. With the permission of their families, the names are being released. The deceased, all residents of Ottawa, are:
Michael Bleakney, 57 years old
Connor Boyd, 21 years old
Karen Krzyzewski, 53 years old
Kyle Nash, 21 years old
Rob More, 35 years old
Dave Woodard, 45 years old
Over 30 bus passengers were injured in the crash, with no serious injuries being reported among the train passengers.
Driver Dave Woodward’s widow, Terry Woodward, appeared on CBC radio’s Ottawa Morning today. She told program host Robyn Bresnahan that her husband was healthy and things seemed normal that day.
“Something had to go wrong because he’s an amazing driver,” she said. “He’s a very careful driver. He would never put anybody in jeopardy.”
According to union representatives, Dave Woodward had driven buses for OC Transpo for close to 10 years. As reported by the Ottawa Citizen, co-workers are shocked by the accident and the loss of a respected colleague:
“The guy was a straight shooter,” said an emotional fellow driver who asked to be identified as Rob 7897 — his driver number. “He was an amazing guy and well-liked by all of us. He was approachable and guys at work loved being around him. He was a happy guy.”
Woodward reportedly had a “clean” work record. CBC reported some of his neighbors said Woodward had gone out of his way to help transport persons stranded by a bitter bus strike in Ottawa, four years ago.