The driver of a city bus that crashed into a Via Rail train, killing six people, died the day after celebrating his wife’s birthday, according to his neighbours.
Dave Woodard, 45, was driving Route 76 travelling from Barrhaven to downtown Ottawa when he crashed into a moving Via Rail train at 8:48 a.m. ET Wednesday.
The bus had been on the Transitway parallel to Woodroffe Avenue, just north of Fallowfield Road, when it collided with the train.
The front of the bus, including the driver’s seat and front stairwell were torn off due to the impact of the collision. The train was also derailed. Ottawa police confirmed Woodard was one of six people killed.
More than 30 people were taken to hospital, including 10 in critical condition after the crash.
Witnesses said the warning lights and barriers at the railway crossing were down, but the bus did not slow down. Investigators from the Transportation Safety Board and inspectors from Transport Canada are investigating the crash, but it is still unclear what happened.
On Wednesday afternoon, Woodard’s neighbours were reeling from the news. They said he lived on the second floor of a 32-unit building with his wife, Terry, and their poodle.
He had celebrated his wife’s birthday on Tuesday night, neighbours added.
Neighbours also said Woodard took time to help Ottawa’s most vulnerable during a bus strike four years ago.
“Very nice quiet guy, hard-working lad,” said neighbour Peter Lindblad, who added he bowled at the same location as Woodard.
“He had a good sense of humour about him. I’ve never seen him in a bad mood.”
Woodard’s union, Amalgamated Transit Union 279, represents all city bus drivers. It released a statement Wednesday sending its condolences to all of the victims and their family and friends.
“The union family is reeling from this morning's events and is feeling devastated with the loss of one of our own,” read a statement from union president Craig Watson.
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“We can only imagine how circumstances such as this will effect the family. It has already begun to affect the brothers and sisters in our local. We need to now focus on assisting the family and our members at this time.”
Woodard had almost 10 years experience as a bus driver with a clean driving record, the union added.
The identities of the five other crash victims have not been released.