Ottawa police have identified the three people who died in a bus crash in the city on Friday.
Bruce Thomlinson, 56, Judy Booth, 57, and Anja Van Beek, 65, died in the collision.
“The identification of those who died is a difficult and important process and I want to offer the condolences of the Ottawa Police and our entire community,” said Chief Charles Bordeleau. “We have worked to support the families and loved ones of those involved and will continue to be there for them.”
All three were public servants. Thomlinson worked for the Canada Border Services Agency; Van Beek worked for the federal Treasury Board. CTV reported that Booth had retired from the National Capital Commission but still worked there part-time on contract.
An email sent to CBSA staff Monday morning said one employee there had been killed and one seriously injured, and two other workers had family members hurt in the crash.
Besides Thomlinson, Booth and Van Beek, 23 people were injured badly enough to be taken to hospitals by paramedics after a double-decker bus slammed into a shelter at a station west of downtown at the start of the evening rush hour Friday.
The bus, on an express route from downtown to the suburb of Kanata, wasn’t scheduled to stop at Westboro station. The roof of the shelter cut through the right side of the bus’s upper deck.
Const. Chuck Benoit of the Ottawa police said several of the people hurt had limbs amputated.
A book of condolences has been set up at Ottawa city hall for those wishing to send messages of support to the victims’ families.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson signed the book Monday afternoon with a message acknowledging the horror of the accident while also thanking first responders for working in challenging conditions.
“This is a very difficult time for our city. Our city is grieving,” Watson said.
He noted the police investigation is ongoing and would not comment on details involving the probe. He also urged people to refrain from jumping to conclusions.
“We want to find out how this happened and how to ensure it never happens again, but most importantly I don’t think it’s helpful at all for people to speculate on the reasons,” he said. “I have full confidence that (police) will do a thorough investigation and when appropriate release as much information as possible so we can ensure that this never happens again.”
The police investigation is now focusing on speaking with eyewitnesses and combing through the wreckage of the bus looking for clues about what caused the crash. The bus was equipped with a “black box” and cameras.
It has been just five years since another Ottawa double-decker bus broke through a warning gate at a rail crossing and hit a moving Via passenger train, killing six people aboard the bus.
The federal Transportation Safety Board investigated that 2013 crash, but only because a Via Rail train was involved. Some experts have called on the federal agency to lead this investigation as well, but Watson said he’s confident in the Ottawa police to handle this case and its implications beyond possible charges.
Watson also says he has no concerns with the use of double-decker buses for transit.
“The feedback that I’ve received from our senior staff is that they have full confidence in the buses, they’ve met every safety standard by national and provincial bodies. We have confidence in the fleet.”
Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press