A Toronto family is in shock over the death of one of their relatives yesterday in a crash involving a public transit bus, that saw a dozen people taken to hospital.
The driver of a cube van plowed into an idling TTC vehicle on the city's northern limit, killing 52-year-old Ranjana Kanagasabapathy as she was boarding the bus and seriously injuring several other people.
"Even now I cannot believe this has happened. I feel that she may be able to come back," Ken Kanagarajah, the victim's brother, told CBC News. "She was very happy. She lived like a rich person but in heart.... She understood the preciousness of life, the value of relationships, of family and people."
Kanagarajah said his mother was especially fraught and "unable to control her feelings." As he spoke from outside the family home in Scarborough, Kanagasabapathy's mother could be heard inside wailing, inconsolable over the death of her only daughter.
Kanagasabapathy was married with two children. Kanagarajah said her husband is also devastated.
Questions have been raised about the cube van driver's actions in the lead-up to the crash. One witness said he saw the man talking on a cellphone as his eastbound vehicle veered into the oncoming lanes on Steeles Avenue at Middlefield Road, hopped the curb and then hit the TTC bus.
Kanagarajah said the family will wait for the final police report, but if the cellphone allegation is proven, it will only add to the tragedy.
"I don't know how many people have to lose their life for people to change. I don't think there is any hurry to attend to the phone when you are driving," he said.
Bus driver 'devastated'
The company operating the van, Wilby Commercial Ltd., imports and distributes snack foods from the Philippines. The crash occurred about 6.5 kilometres from Wilby Commercial's offices in Markham, just north of Toronto.
The president told CBC News his driver had the right licence and insurance for the vehicle he was operating. The driver has been with the company for "a few years," Wilby Commercial's Willie Lao said.
The van's driver and the TTC bus driver were among those taken to hospital in the wake of the crash.
The bus driver "didn't sustain serious physical injuries, but he is devastated by the incident, obviously," TTC union vice-president Manny Sforza said.
"With the truck coming out of nowhere, he wouldn't have expected anything like that to happen. He was sitting stationary, and the bus just felt the impact.... There is really no training for that."
Police were interviewing several people who witnessed the crash, and accident-reconstruction experts were attempting to piece together the sequence of events.
On Wednesday, members of Kanagasabapathy's family attended the scene of the crash to place flowers and mourn their loss.