An Ottawa city bus collided at a level crossing in the city’s southwest end Wednesday morning killing at least five people in a crash involving a Via Rail train. Fire officials confirmed there have been several fatalities and at least a dozen injured.
“We had bodies and debris pretty much everywhere at the impact site,” Fire Service’s Marc Messier told CTV’s News Channel. “It’s too soon to tell if number (of fatalities) will rise,” he said, adding that at least five others were transported to hospital with serious injuries.
Officials say the crash happened at 8:48 a.m. ET near the intersection of Woodroffe Avenue and Fallowfield Road.
Messier said all the casualties occurred on the bus. There were passengers on the Via train at the time of the crash, he said, but no injuries were reported on the train.
He said the train derailed “approximately 100 to 200 feet down the rail.”
“It’s definitely a serious scene,” he said. “Our top priority is getting anyone with serious injuries to the hospital and getting them into proper care.”
Photos from the scene show the front of the bus completely sheared off.
Rebecca Guilbeault was on the bus with her one-year-old son when the collision occurred. She said she was texting her friend when other passengers began yelling at the bus driver to stop. “As I looked up the bus was coming into contact with the gate,” she told CTV News.
“I don’t know what happened,” she continued. “I don’t know if the bus driver like blacked out, I don’t know what happened but he didn’t slow down and it just impacted with the train.”
Guilbeault said she immediately ran off the bus with her son.
“I’ve seen a few people dead, someone ripped in half,” Guilbeault said, breaking down in tears. Ontario’s air ambulance service ORNGE dispatched one helicopter from Toronto to the Ottawa crash scene. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has also deployed a team of investigators to the crash site.
The City of Ottawa has set up a reunification centre at the Nepean Sportsplex for families affected by the accident. At least seven crash victims have been transported to Ottawa-area hospitals. Three individuals were rushed to the regional trauma centre at Ottawa Civic Hospital, and four others were taken to Queensway Carleton Hospital.