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Westboro crash scene to be cleared, but investigation a 'slow, painstaking process'

The Ottawa Police Service is not yet identifying the three people who lost their lives in the collision.
2019-01-12 Westboro Station bus crash CP1
OC Transpo bus crash at Westboro Station, January 12, 2019. Photo/ The Canadian Press

Ottawa Police are expected to complete their work at the scene of a deadly bus crash in Westboro by Saturday night, but answers as to why the OC Transpo bus jumped the curb and crashed during Friday afternoon's commute are going to take time.

Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau provided an update to media on Saturday, January 12, at 1 p.m., alongside Sgt. Cameron Graham of the force's Collisions Investigations Unit. 

Bordeleau made it clear while police expect to release the scene Saturday, work collecting evidence, analyzing photos, videos and data, along with interviewing the nearly 90 people on the bus is going to be a "slow, painstaking process." 

"Outstanding investigators are doing that work, but it takes time," Bordeleau said.

Sgt. Graham said six investigators are currently assigned to the crash, which is expected to be a "long, detailed and complex investigation." 

Police remained on scene Saturday and used a drone to get a bird's-eye view of the crash, which is expected to help determine if any environmental factors played a role.

The bus was equipped with a data recorder, according to Graham, who added while the data has yet to be analyzed, the recorder is designed to survive high-impact crashes. 

Graham said officers will also be taking measurements to try and determine how fast the bus was going when it got to Westboro station along the transitway, where the speed limit in that specific section is 50 km/h. 

While police initially took the female driver of the bus into custody, they said Saturday she had been released without charges. Chief Bordeleau also added Saturday the public shouldn't draw any conclusions from the initial arrest of the driver. 

Those who have pictures or video of the crash are being asked to get in touch with police, while passengers on the bus missing property are also asked to reach out. 

While the scene is expected to be released Saturday night, Bordeleau said it would be up to the City of Ottawa and OC Transpo as to when the transit station will be re-opened, given the damage to the structure. 

Victims yet to be publicly identified

Bordeleau said Saturday the Victim Crisis Unit had identified those killed in the crash and were assisting affected families, but their identities have still not been released. 

Along with the three killed, 23 others were injured in the crash, with the Ottawa Hospital tweeting Saturday one patient remains in critical condition, six in serious condition and four remain in stable condition. 

The Chief also clarified initial information the three victims killed were two passengers on the bus and a pedestrian waiting on the platform, as he said they are now getting conflicting information and will update the public as soon as possible. 

When asked about the safety of Ottawa's transit in wake of Friday's crash and a similar 2013 crash involving an OC Transpo Bus and Via Rail train in Barrhaven that killed six, Bordeleau said Ottawans can have faith in public transportation. 

"Accidents can happen," Bordeleau said, adding the service carries millions of passengers per-year, while such crashes remain a rarity. 

"Ottawa has a very safe transportation system. It's a tragic case and we will continue to investigate what took place."

While the National Transportation Safety Board does remain on the scene of the crash, Bordeleau said they are not involved in the investigation but collecting data for a study being conducted on similar crashes.

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