Transit Windsor rider concerned operator kept driving after 'medical emergency'
'She went on the opposite side of the road, went up on a ramp and all I saw was a tree in front of me'
Melissa Benjamin takes the Transway 1C bus across Windsor every day to get to work, but on Nov. 1 her typically tranquil ride was disrupted when the driver suddenly swerved into the other lane.
"I believe she fell asleep at the wheel," said Benjamin. "She went on the opposite side of the road, went up on a ramp and all I saw was a tree in front of me."
"Then she yelled out 'Is everybody alright?' and continued her route. She didn't stop at all, she didn't call for help."
Transit Windsor executive director Pat Delmore confirmed the bus did "cross the median, hit the curb and bounced back."
Benjamin said she was told the driver suffered a "medical emergency," but Delmore declined to go into detail stating, "We're not prepared to discuss personnel issues in regards to our employees."
The bus was traveling along Wildwood Drive and Beachdale Road on its way to Tecumseh Mall.
Benjamin said she was shocked when the bus didn't stop. An elderly couple were the only other passengers during the unexpected maneuver, but when the driver arrived at the mall and started taking on more riders she started frantically calling the city's 311 line to report what happened.
"That could have been dangerous," she said, adding she wanted to ensure the driver was "stopped."
Decision not to stop was 'matter of judgement'
Delmore said 911 was never called, but staff was made aware of Benjamin's call and immediately called the driver to find out what was going on.
"We had her stop the bus at that time," he added. "A supervisor attended the scene and relieved her and brought her back to the transit centre."
The incident was dealt with that day, Delmore said, calling the driver's decision to keep going even after the incident a "matter of judgement."
"You and I don't know what was being experienced at that time," he said. "We have a very, very safe operation here at Transit Windsor."
The director also said drivers can wait until their shift to report any unexpected incidents.
Benjamin took the bus again the day after the close call and said she's already had "traumatizing" flashbacks.
The transit agency offered Benjamin a strip of tickets to thank her for calling 311, but the daily public transport user said that isn't enough.
"Windsor Transit isn't doing anything," she said. "I don't think they care at all. If they have an issue, pull over … public safety is important, it's not just about you."