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Bus driver charged in crash

Ottawa police are charging the driver of a city bus with more than three dozen offences after a deadly crash in January that killed three people and injured 23 others.

Aissatou Diallo was initially arrested and questioned after the incident at a transit station in the city's west end, but released without charges.

Police say the 42-year-old turned herself in this morning and now faces three counts of dangerous driving causing death. She also faces 35 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm — one count for every passenger who was on the bus that day.

She is being released on a promise to appear in court Sept. 17.

The double-decker bus, on an express route from downtown to the west-end suburb of Kanata, slammed into the roof of a shelter, cutting through the right side of its upper deck and crushing a number of seats.

Bruce Thomlinson, Judy Booth and Anja Van Beek, all civil servants working for the federal government, died in the crash that happened during a frigid Friday rush hour in the national capital.

What followed was an investigation that involved crash reconstruction teams, interviewing some 100 people and experts from Transport Canada, Ontario's Ministry of Transportation, the provincial police force, the Mounties, and the Transportation Safety Board, among others.

It was only within the last week that officers determined they were ready to lay charges against Diallo, interim Ottawa police Chief Steve Bell told a news conference Friday.

"It was a very complex investigation that took time. One thing we knew is that this was a very traumatic incident for our community and our community and our police service took that very seriously," he said.

"That takes time and we knew that it was our responsibility to do an absolutely thorough job. What that thoroughness did is it allowed us to at this point be able to release these charges."

Police initially ruled out impaired driving as a cause of the January crash, but said at the time that they were looking at everything else, including weather and road conditions. Bell wouldn't say what specifically led them to charge Diallo, saying that information would be presented in court.

"The determination that we've made, in conjunction with the Crown attorney's office, is that the actions of the driver that day did meet a criminal threshold."

The double-decker transit bus was travelling to Kanata's suburban Bridlewood neighbourhood from downtown Ottawa when it hopped a curb and struck the Westboro transit shelter at about 3:50 p.m., just as rush hour began. It plowed along a station platform and into the overhanging roof of the transit shelter.

Two people were thrown from the bus, and many of the injured survivors sustained injuries to their lower limbs and required amputations.

Police, firefighters and paramedics were on the scene for hours in what Bell described as "a very tragic and complex and difficult situation on probably what was the coldest night of the year, in very adverse conditions."



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