Ottawa·BUS CRASH TRIAL

Double-decker's brakes, steering 'responsive' after crash, court told

The OC Transpo mechanic who helped investigators collect data from the onboard computer of the bus involved in the fatal 2019 crash at Westboro station told court this week that the double-decker's brakes and steering remained "responsive" after the collision.

OC Transpo mechanic who aided investigators drove bus 3 weeks after fatal collision

This photo, filed as part of the investigation into the fatal crash of an OC Transpo bus at Westboro station in January 2019, shows the front of the vehicle's lower deck, including the driver's seat. (Trial Exhibit/Ontario Court of Justice)

The OC Transpo mechanic who helped investigators collect data from the onboard computer of the bus involved in the fatal 2019 crash at Westboro station told court this week that the double-decker's brakes and steering remained "responsive" after the collision.

Martin Antoine, a supervisor at OC Transpo's Industrial Avenue depot, said he was called to the city's Swansea Public Works Garage on Jan. 31, 2019, to help move the bus as part of the police investigation.

Antoine testified Wednesday and Thursday in the judge-only trial of bus driver Aissatou Diallo, 44, who has pleaded not guilty to 38 dangerous driving charges including three charges of dangerous driving causing death.

During their opening statement, the Crown said the double-decker had no mechanical issues prior to the crash on Jan. 11, 2019, and said Diallo had failed to steer or brake properly to avoid striking the bus shelter. Three passengers died in the crash, and many more were injured.

Antoine, a veteran within OC Transpo's vehicle maintenance department, said he drove the double-decker twice on Jan. 31, from a secure vehicle bay on the east side of the complex to the fire department service area and back. 

Antoine told court the vehicle's brakes, steering and hand brake were all "responsive" at that time, with no apparent mechanical problems.

He testified that before driving the bus, he checked that its wheels were secure and tires fully inflated. He said the dashboard gauges showed the vehicle's air brakes had adequate pressure. 

In reviewing the data downloaded from the onboard computer system, Antoine said a fault was detected because the power to the bus hadn't been cut using the usual shutdown sequence. He said he'd instructed investigators to do that the day after the crash so the bus could be towed from Westboro station. 

An OC Transpo mechanic testified this week that the vehicle's brakes and steering were in working order despite the serious damage sustained in the collision. (Trial Exhibit/Ontario Court of Justice)

The Crown also presented Antoine with measurements taken by an Ontario Provincial Police investigator and the computer system monitoring wear on the vehicle's braking system.

Antoine said those indicators suggested the braking system was in working order and wasn't in immediate need of repair or replacement.

Assistant Crown attorney Dallas Mack also reviewed OC Transpo's maintenance schedule, including work orders from two inspections of the bus performed in March and August 2019. 

OC Transpo buses are also scheduled for preventative maintenance on a 60-day cycle, and aren't assigned to drivers if there are outstanding work orders, Antoine told court.

Antoine also explained that buses are outfitted with onboard computers that OC Transpo monitors remotely to indicate when a fault alarm has been triggered in real time.

Earlier Wednesday, court heard from Allan Smith, the driver who was assigned to double-decker 8155 on the morning of the crash. Smith said he had found "no issues" when he performed his daily inspection.

The trial is expected to resume with Antoine's cross-examination Monday.

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