Toronto transit operator who chased assault suspect reinstated

The head of the Toronto Transit Commission is defending a decision to suspend a streetcar driver who left his vehicle to chase down a man who had allegedly assaulted a female rider.

'I know what the rules are, and I’ll deal with them after,' says operator

The TTC has reinstated Dino Oroc, a streetcar operator who left his vehicle to chase down a man suspected of assaulting a passenger (Canadian Press)

A streetcar operator with the Toronto Transit Commission who was suspended for leaving his vehicle to chase down a man who had allegedly assaulted a female passenger has been reinstated.

Dino Oroc, 43, will soon resume his job without any loss in his wages, said Bob Kinnear, the head of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents the majority of TTC workers.

Oroc was relieved of his duties after the incident Wednesday around 1:15 p.m. that started on an eastbound 501 Queen St. streetcar, near John Street.

Oroc, who was first hired by the TTC in 1999, left the streetcar to give chase to the man, which is a violation of TTC rules for streetcar operators to ensure the safety of passengers and staff.

"Do I regret it? No, I don't regret it," said Oroc, recounting the incident at a joint news conference with Kinnear Friday afternoon.

Oroc became involved after a passenger alerted him to the assault, and he stopped the streetcar near Spadina Avenue.

He investigated, but before police could arrive, the suspect fled through the open doors down Queen Street and the alleged victim ran after him, Oroc said. Oroc said he pursued in his streetcar.

Oroc then chased after both of them at John Street — leaving a streetcar full of passengers sitting idle.

Oroc said he made the decision to chase the alleged assailant "because somebody’s security was at stake here, and I thought, 'OK, I know what the rules are, and I’ll deal with them after.'"

"I felt somebody was in need at that moment and I just jumped out."

"And if somebody’s in need, I felt somebody was in need at that moment, and I just jumped out."

Kinnear said he had already spoken to Andy Byford to ensure "that this never happens again when one of our members takes it upon themselves to ensure public safety on our transit system.

"Obviously we recognize that there are rules and policies that should be adhered to, but I think just as importantly, discretion and common sense should prevail from the Toronto Transit [Commission]," Kinnear said.

Andy Byford, the Toronto Transit Commission's chief executive officer, says the streetcar operator broke rules by leaving his vehicle to chase an assault suspect. (CBC)

Kinnear said Byford has made a commitment to have dialogue to ensure that discretion is applied by TTC management in similar instances in the future.

TTC CEO defended initial decision

The revelation that Oroc has been reinstated to his role comes after Byford today defended a decision to suspend him in the first place.

"When you look at face value, it does sound like a great thing that this guy has done," said Byford. "I’m sure he did have good intentions, and obviously he was acting in the heat of the moment because he was enraged by what he heard.

"He was chasing after someone who’s running away — that’s really the job of the police. I’ve got a real concern that our staff would be putting themselves in danger if they’re chasing after someone who may be armed. What we’d rather the driver does is stay in his position, contact the police and give them all the information they need."

After CBC first reported this story, Carola Perez, who says she was on the streetcar and witnessed the incident, called CBC to say the driver's actions were "admirable" and did not put passengers in danger.

"I would say that every passenger on the streetcar knew exactly where the driver had gone because they had witnessed the altercation," she said.

"I think the actions of the driver were quite admirable, and I don’t think it caused a great inconvenience to anyone on the streetcar. I think it’s ridiculous that he might lose his job over this."

Incident was not sexual assault as initially thought

It was initially believed that the alleged assault was a sexual assault. But Toronto police confirmed to CBC News Friday afternoon that they have investigated and have concluded that a sexual assault did not take place; rather it is a case of assault.

The victim has accepted this characterization of the events on the streetcar, said Const. Tony Vella.

Vella also confirmed that the driver thought at the time he was chasing after a man who he thought committed a sexual assault.