TTC streetcar driver given time off after Yatim shooting
Veteran transit operator commends fellow employee’s handling of deadly police incident
The Toronto streetcar driver who remained on board the vehicle with 18-year-old Sammy Yatim moments before he was shot by police will likely need some time to recover after such a "disturbing" incident, says a veteran Toronto Transit Commission operator.
"When something like this happens to you it does stay with you. It does affect you to a degree and it usually takes some time in order to adjust having dealt and being exposed to something like that," said Marvin Alfred, a TTC bus driver for the past 12 years.
Yatim was riding the 505 Dundas streetcar on Dundas Street West near Trinity Bellwoods Park around midnight on Saturday when he allegedly stood up and brandished a knife.
One witness told CBC News that Yatim yelled "nobody get off the f--ing streetcar" as people flooded towards the door leaving only the teenager and driver on board.
A security camera video from a building outside near where the streetcar stopped shows Yatim and another unidentified man, who may be the driver, on the streetcar.
Yatim stays seated for almost a minute before standing up as the man gets off and the police enter the field of view.
"The young gentleman seems to be sitting down and have a dialogue that seems somewhat constructive," said Alfred after being shown the security footage by the CBC’s Steven D’Souza.
Try to defuse the situation
Alfred doesn't personally know the streetcar driver but commends his actions for stopping the vehicle and ensuring everyone got off safely.
"You try to talk to the person to see what you can [do] to try and reach them, to try and defuse the situation," he said, adding that dealing with hostile passengers is a "daily" occurrence.
"We do that all the time. We are exposed to a varying cross-section of people in all levels of temperament and we are very often successful in that sort of scenario," he said.
The TTC's union says the driver has been offered time off and counseling to help him deal with the shooting.
"You don't know what you're going to feel until you close your eyes the first night and try and put your head on that pillow," said Alfred, who has been threatened with a weapon while on shift.
Asked by D’Souza if locking an agitated passenger on board a vehicle until they can "cool off" is an option for a driver, Alfred said it`s not part of his TTC training.
"I would never lock an individual on a bus. I would never quote-unquote trap a person on a bus and walk away — that's not what I've been trained," he said.