Ottawa·BUS CRASH TRIAL

Police 'deleted' details from bus crash report, expert testifies

A collision expert testifying at the trial of the driver involved in the Westboro bus crash says police investigators "deleted" key factors from later versions of their report into the deadly incident.

Collision expert tells court police removed references to sun glare, road markings

The heavily damaged double-decker is towed from Westboro station on Jan. 12, 2019, the day after it collided with a bus shelter, killing three passengers and injuring many more. (Idil Mussa/CBC)

A collision expert testifying at the trial of the driver involved in the Westboro bus crash says police investigators "deleted" key factors from later versions of their report into the deadly incident.

Aissatou Diallo, 44, has pleaded not guilty to 38 dangerous driving charges against her relating to the collision on Jan. 11, 2019, including three counts of dangerous driving causing death.

Richard Lamoureux, a collision reconstruction expert from DFA Engineering Services Inc., testified via Zoom on Monday that he had reviewed drafts of the police reconstruction reports and mentioned elements of them in his final report. The police reports were not submitted into evidence by the Crown.

According to Lamoureux, police initially considered sun glare and confusing road markings as contributing factors in the crash, but didn't include those details in later reports. Lamoureux said in his expert opinion, both had indeed been factors in the crash.

Warning: some viewers may find the following video disturbing

Video shows journey toward Westboro station before crash

CBC News Ottawa

2 months ago
0:09
This video, facing out the front windshield of the bus, shows the vehicle hitting the shoulder of the transitway moments before colliding with the bus shelter at Westboro station. 0:09

Lamoureux said one draft of the police report noted a painted line, left over from an earlier construction detour, 2.6 metres from the edge of the Transitway, the same width as a double-decker bus. The detail was potentially significant because it suggested a driver could mistake the line for a lane marker and accidentally steer into the gutter at the edge of the roadway, he said.

"This information that's in the earlier reports is deleted from the final report," Lamoureux noted. "It was perplexing to me to read these reports and find that they were on the right track, [that] they're finding factors here that are important to the cause of this collision ... but then they're subsequently deleted from analysis."

Lamoureux said he also differed from police in his interpretation of a rising shadow seen in one of the videos captured by the bus before the crash. He interpreted the detail as an indication that Diallo had attempted to steer left, away from the edge of the road.

Aissatou Diallo, 44, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of dangerous driving causing death and 35 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. (Raphael Tremblay/CBC)

Expert also omitted details, Crown suggests

Crown lawyer Dallas Mack questioned the expert's interpretation, however, suggesting Lamoureux had also failed to include certain details in his final report.

According to a police officer's report, Diallo said after the crash that the express bus was "not supposed to stop at Westboro station," contradicting Lamoureux's conclusion that she was responding to a stop request as the bus approached the station.

Lamoureux said the vehicle's movement before the crash, captured on video by a bus driving behind, was gradual and resembled an intentional lane change, not a bus veering out of control. He said he didn't include Diallo's comment because his report focused on video and physical evidence.

Diallo tried to steer away: Defence

Lawyer Fady Mansour said Diallo's defence will present evidence that she attempted to steer away from the gutter, but the rapid succession of three separate collisions — the bus struck a rock wall, a snowbank and finally the shelter awning — gave her no time to react and hit the brakes.

Mansour said there's video evidence that Diallo was responding to a stop request at Wesbtoro station, and that's why she was approaching the station in the right-hand lane.

The judge-alone trial, which is being conducted via Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions, resumes Tuesday.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said Richard Lamoureux is a collision reconstruction expert from DFA Engineering Experts. In fact, the company is called DFA Engineering Services Inc.
    May 04, 2021 2:41 PM ET

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