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By: Algonquin Times Staff
An OC Transpo bus hit a VIA Rail train east of Fallowfield Station yesterday morning on the transitway near the intersection of Woodroffe Avenue and Fallowfield Road, causing the deaths of six people.
Another 31 passengers were sent to the hospital.
Some Algonquin staff members and students were involved.
“What we have been able to confirm at this particular time is that we have identified one student and two employees who, while they are safe now, were involved in the accident,” said Kent MacDonald, Algonquin College president.
“We have reached out to them and their families. They’re in different situations, all of them, in terms of the intervention that’s required,” he said. “We’ve provided support if they needed them.”
The Algonquin community members involved in the crash are safe.
“One of the faculty members was injured,” said MacDonald. “So all three are safe and the one faculty member did sustain somewhat serious injuries but is being treated by medical authorities at this point.”
The collision happened around 9 a.m. during a busy part of rush hour. Buses and commuter traffic were diverted around the scene and police closed off southbound traffic at Slack Road shortly after first responders arrived.
The bus appeared to have struck the front of the train causing the first car to derail.
“I thought we were going to flip over,” said Rob Gencarelli, a 22-year-old University of Ottawa student who was seated in the rear part of the train. “I’ve got to give credit to whoever was driving the train.”
A media conference was held at the scene at roughly 12:30 p.m. Glen Pilon, chief investigator for the Transportation Safety Board, discussed the investigation.
“Right now we’re conducting work, we have a team of investigators from our engineer laboratory here in Ottawa, our human performance group and also our rail investigators,” he said.
The investigators want to get all information from the recorders on the bus, locomotive and crossing protection before reaching a conclusion of what happened, said Pilon.