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6 dead in horrific Ottawa train/bus crash

Yesterday, there was just a terrible crash between a double decker OC Transpo Bus and a Via Rail Train at Fallowfield Station in Ottawa, ON.

Dozens were injured. 6 were left dead. The majority of the injured were on the bus. But the psychological impact will likely be felt by all, including the friends/family of the injured and deceased, along with the community for years to come. The injured were taken to various hospitals around Ottawa. 10 are reported to have critical injuries.

The names of the 6 deceased have been released. Having the names of those who departed certainly humanizes the story. They are:

  • Connor Boyd, 21
  • Rob More, 35
  • Kyle Nash, 21
  • David Woodard, 45 (the bus driver and a 10 year veteran of OC Transpo)
  • Karen Krzyzewski, 53
  • Michael Bleakney, 57

All of the victims were on the bus. 5 were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

Here’s where it gets sad for me. In speaking about the victims. Boyd (21) and Nash (21) were high school buddies who were apparently sitting together on the bus. Boyd was studying English at Carleton University and friends say that he was a pretty funny guy.

Karen Krzyzewski was the mother of 2 children. She had been working for the past 28 years at Canada’s Library and Archives. She loved art and enjoyed making handmade gifts for others.

The bus driver, Woodard, had a clean record before the crash. His wife described him as a “prince“. There doesn’t appear to be any mental health issues or evidence that his actions were deliberate.

Witnesses say that they were yelling at the bus driver prior to the crash. Apparently, he didn’t notice that the signals for an on-coming train had been activated and that the gates were down.

The Ottawa Police is conducting a full scale investigation to get to the bottom of this. Via Rail and OC Transpo are also conducting investigations.

The police began monitoring the amount of rail crashes since 2002. None had been reported at that intersection prior to this crash. So, it’s not like this area was historically dangerous for trains and buses alike. For all intents and purposes, this looks like a freak accident which can be tacked to human error or poor judgment.

But when your job is to drive a bus, this sort of human error and/or poor judgment holds the ultimate price for hundreds of passengers. We like to think that transit accidents don’t occur, and are far fewer than car accidents. And, stats show that there are fewer accidents involving transit vehicle vs. accidents involving common motor vehicles (cars, SUVs, motorcycles).

But, when public transit accidents occur, not only are they big news, the injuries associated with those accidents tend to be far more serious than injuries involving common motor vehicles. Bigger vehicle, bigger impact. More people on a bus, the greater the likelihood of injury. Or, is it that many public transit vehicles don’t have seat belts and passengers aren’t required to sit.

Think about it. The last time you took the bus, or a subway, were you lucky enough to get a seat? Perhaps. Probably not. And if you’re standing at the time of impact, chances are you’re going to go flying. Should that happen, the chance of sustaining significant injury increases considerably.

I don’t know what to think anymore. Hundreds of people took the OC Transpo Bus that morning to get downtown. Bus goes over the train tracks and gets hit by a locomotive engine. It makes no sense other than this was a horrific accident or epic proportions.

How would you pursue such a claim from a personal injury perspective? This case has class action law suit written all over it. Sign up as many families of the deceased and injured as possible in your case. Get it certified by the Court. Sue the bus driver, OC Transpo, Via Rail, the government or municipal body responsible for the rail track signal system with an allegation that it was not working, or not properly working at the time of the accident and away you go. From the lawyer’s perspective, all of the accident victims were passengers, and their apportionment of any liability (with the exception of the deceased driver) will be limited or next to none. The real question will be damages, and how to quantify those damages.

As discussed in my previous Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post, damages for pain and suffering resulting from fatality claims are very limited in Ontario. In this case, it appears that 5 of the 6 accident victims were pronounced dead at the accident scene. Another died at hospital later that day. The claims of the 10 critically injured will likely be significant.kyle-nash-and-connor-boyd.jpg

Sad accident. Terrible story. All gets cheapened with CBC News reports how politicians across Canada Tweeted their condolences. From Steven Harper, to Premier Kathleen Wynne, everyone major and minor politician across Canada tweeted about this accident, and sadly, every major and minor news outlet reported it. Just cheapens the story in my view and is a cheap piece of PR for the politicians to stay in the news for one more cheap second. By the way, do you really think these politicians actually tweet? My guess is that 33% and under actually send out those Twitter posts. Most posts are likely done by their unpaid interns, or paid staff.

Prediction: A disgruntled young political staffer in charge of a politician’s Twitter account will take to Twitter and say something ridiculous to get back at their x-employer. Let’s see that come to fruition.

Sad that I’m always showing pics of recently dead people on my blog. Guess that’s just the world we live in.

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