The widow of Ottawa bus driver Dave Woodard, who was killed along with five of his passengers in a crash with a Via Rail train Wednesday, says her husband would never have put riders in jeopardy.
Terry Woodard told Robyn Bresnahan, host of CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning, on Thursday morning that she heard about the crash while at work and immediately thought of her husband, a 10-year OC Transpo worker.
"He didn't answer his cell," she said. "Because he was driving, I left him a message for him to call me back. He never did."
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Woodard, 45, was driving the bus that collided with a Via Rail passenger train that left Montreal and was headed west towards Toronto. More than 30 people were also injured in the crash just before 9 a.m. ET.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson called it the worst bus crash in Ottawa's history.
Terry Woodard said she went to The Ottawa Hospital later Wednesday, and that's when it was confirmed David had died.
"Very shocking. He's my prince. I lost my prince," she said, fighting back her tears.
"He's the greatest man ever — the greatest father, stepdad, grandpa. He always put a smile on my face in the 25 years we were together."
Terry Woodard celebrated her birthday on Tuesday, and her husband had surprised her with flowers and balloons at work, she said.
The couple had been together for 25 years, and their daughter is 18, she said. David also had two stepsons.
Terry Woodard also said her husband loved his job, adding he had told her stories about passengers bringing him cards and cookies, and he was always smiling.
She also said her husband was healthy and everything was normal the morning before the crash.
"Something had to go wrong because he's an amazing driver," she said. "He's a very careful driver. He would never put anybody in jeopardy.
A note on CBC's decision to broadcast our interview with Terry Woodard
On Thursday we interviewed Terry Woodard, the wife of Dave Woodard, the bus driver who was killed in Wednesday morning’s terrible accident. We have heard from many people who are uncomfortable with our decision to include the interview in our coverage of this tragedy. We think it is important to explain the thinking behind that decision.
Ms. Woodard is a person who is impacted by this tragedy and as such is someone we would go to for her perspective. She is also uniquely positioned to be able to give insight on how her husband, the driver of the bus, was on the morning of the accident. This information is important to our understanding of what happened.
In any situation where someone has suffered a loss, our aim is to treat the people involved with great sensitivity. In this case, we did not press Ms. Woodard to speak with us. We approached her sensitively and she, without pressure, agreed to speak on the record. In fact she wanted to.
During the conversation that followed, our host gave Ms. Woodard the opportunity to share the love she felt for her husband. We also, as I mentioned, tried to deepen our understanding of the story — both the emotional impact and the facts.
We feel it was important to remember the painful, human part of this story. We heard from many eye witnesses on Wednesday who described what they experienced on the bus. We felt it was important, when given the opportunity, to learn more about Dave Woodard and the kind of man he was. His wife was the best person to share that side of the story.
We understand from the audience perspective that it was fresh and raw and hard to hear in the wake of the crash but feel we were cautious and sensitive in our connection with Ms. Woodard and remain confident in our decision that the interview was important in further illuminating the emotional and factual aspects of the story.
We are grateful that she was willing to speak with us and to share her thoughts about the man she loved and lost. Although the conversation was a highly emotional one, we feel that it provided a key perspective on this quickly evolving story.
Managing Director, CBC Ottawa