Bus driver in Friday’s crash alleged to have been in another collision days before

Questions are being raised about how OC Transpo investigates incidents involving its drivers after allegations by operators that the driver involved in Friday’s deadly crash at Westboro station had been in another collision just days before.

Aissatou Diallo was driving OC Transpo bus 269 en route to Kanata’s Bridlewood neighbourhood from downtown on Friday when the bus crashed into the overhang of the bus shelter at Westboro station just before 4 p.m. The overhang sliced through the upper level of the double-decker bus. Three people were killed and 23 were injured. Police say the 90-passenger bus was almost at full capacity.

Diallo was arrested at the scene, taken to police headquarters on Elgin Street and questioned before being released unconditionally Friday night. While police have not publicly detailed why she was arrested, the Citizen has learned that Diallo was allegedly not cooperative with police on scene. They felt she needed to be arrested in order to be properly detained and questioned. She has not been charged with any crime or offence and police maintain that they have no grounds to believe any offence was committed. A look at the evidence and facts will reveal what happened, police said, and whether there were offences.

Ottawa police collision investigators continue what police have called the “painstaking” process of piecing together what went wrong Friday afternoon. That investigation will look at what witnesses have already described as possible factors in the crash – sun producing glare in a driver’s field of vision, reports of black and regular ice on the transitway –  the possibility of mechanical failures and the speed of the bus.

First responders attend to victims of a horrific rush hour bus crash at the Westboro Station near Tunney’s Pasture. 

Police will also be looking at Diallo’s driving record, which multiple sources say includes at least one other collision in the days before the Westboro incident.

Police officers are aware of the other collision, the Citizen has learned, but it’s not yet known whether police responded to the earlier collision or investigated it as a separate incident. In a statement to the Citizen, police spokesman Const. Chuck Benoit said the force would not be “addressing these types of questions.”

“The Westboro collision is an ongoing investigation and very complex,” Benoit said. “We will not be able to comment on any person that is part of any ongoing investigations.”

The president of the union representing OC Transpo drivers refused to answer questions about Diallo’s driving record, her current status as a driver, when she was hired, what happens when a driver is involved in any collision (whether minor or serious), or if any additional training is mandated when such an incident occurs.

Clint Crabtree also refused to answer questions about what the protocol is for drivers involved in a collision where police respond to the scene.

In a statement to the Citizen, Crabtree wrote: “We are deeply saddened about the tragic accident involving an OC Transpo bus on Friday, January 11, 2019.

“On behalf of the members of (the Amalgamated Transit Union) Local 279, we send our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones. Our thoughts are with those who were passengers or were injured on that bus, or who might have witnessed this collision.”

He also thanked first responders “who quickly attended to the injured.”

The Citizen has also learned that the union wasn’t aware that Diallo had been arrested on Friday until police announced it at a news conference.

Crabtree would not comment about whether Diallo has legal representation or what kind of mental health support is being offered to her and other drivers.

The Citizen has reached out to OC Transpo for comment.

More to come.

syogaretnam@postmedia.com

twitter.com/shaaminiwhy

 


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