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Updated: Wed, 18 Sep 2013 17:22:31 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Ottawa police ID 3 of 6 killed in Via train-bus crash



A passenger is taken to an ambulance following a Via Rail train and city bus collision in Ottawa's west end on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. Canadian Press

A passenger is taken to an ambulance following a Via Rail train and city bus collision in Ottawa's west end on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. Canadian Press

Three of the six people killed in a crash between an Ottawa transit bus and a Via passenger train Wednesday have been identified but police are not confirming or releasing their names until families have been properly notified.

Multiples sources have confirmed the driver killed in the crash as Dave Woodard, a 10-year veteran at OC Transpo. Police Chief Charles Bordeleau would not confirm the driver's identity at a news conference Wednesday afternoon at Ottawa City Hall.

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The OC Transpo bus Route 76, heading for downtown Ottawa, was travelling north on the Transitway when it collided with Train 51, which came from Montreal and was heading west to Toronto.

The front end of the bus was sheared off in the collision, and five people were pronounced dead at the scene, including the driver. One bus passenger died later in hospital from injuries.

Several witnesses said the bus failed to stop at a rail crossing moments before the collision, while at least one person said the train appeared to be stopped on the tracks when the bus hit it.

Transportation Safety Board investigators will look at sight lines, warning systems, gates and the locomotive event recorder as well as other recording devices that might be available in conducting its investigation, said TSB chief operating officer Jean Laporte. OC Transpo general manager John Manconi said GPS data from the bus would also be made available.

Laporte added the investigation could take several months.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson called the crash the worst in the city's history.

"We've lost six of our neighbours," said Watson, who offered condolences to the families of the victims. "A void has been left in these lives that will be impossible to fill," he said.

Canadian Blood Services said it is supplying area hospitals with additional blood to treat victims. It said it has received a number of calls from people looking to donate blood and said it is encouraging people to do so at a local blood clinic.

Transportation and Safety Board investigators are at the scene of the collision and are leading the investigation.

Ottawa police and the City of Ottawa are encouraging people concerned about the condition of relatives or friends to contact 311 for more information.

Greg Mech said he was riding atop the double-decker bus when it crashed "head-on" into the train. He said some people saw the train and expected the bus to stop, but it didn't.

"From what I can tell the bus driver did not notice that these train track's signal lights were on and the gates were down.

People screamed on the bus shortly before the crash because he was not stopping," Mech told CBC News.

Witnesses said the bus appeared to ignore warning signals at the crossing. Pascal Lolgis said the bus appeared to drive through a lowered crossing barrier."Boom! It went into the train like that," Lolgis said. "He didn't stop. He must have lost his brakes. Or he had an … attack or whatever.

"He just didn't stop. He just keep going like that. Then he gets hit."

"We just seemed to ram into the side of the train. People just suddenly started to scream when he hit the side of the train.

"The front part [of the bus] just sort of got ripped away and then I got thrown. And then we just got off just down the stairway which was still all open and then out through the regular door and we could see there was people on the ground and it was a very, very serious accident."

"The train is going through," Cogan said. "And I was just looking around, just watching things happen. And noticed that in the bus lane, the double-decker bus … I saw him and he just kept going.

"I just thought maybe there's a side way around or something but instantly he just … he smoked the train. He went through the guard rail and just hammered the train and then it was just mayhem."

One witness who was at the train station, Heather Hogan, gave a conflicting account, however, saying the bus was stopped on the tracks when the train collided with it.

Ottawa police said since they began monitoring collisions in the area in 2002 there have been no crashes at the intersection of the rail crossing and the Transitway.

Watson said OC Transpo drivers have not had an issue with rail crossings in the past.

"Obviously we have that concern now," he told CBC News Network anchor Carol MacNeil.

Woodroffe Avenue remains closed in both directions between Fallowfield and Slack roads and detours are in effect for OC Transpo buses.

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