By Alvin Tsang
It was two years ago that an OC Transpo double-decker bus crashed on approach to Westboro Station, killing three passengers and leaving 23 others injured. The trial against bus driver Aissatou Diallo, 44, began on March 23.
Diallo pleaded not guilty to all counts of dangerous driving in the criminal trial — there are 35 charges of bodily harm and three charges of causing death.
The case heard by the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa on April 6, and again on April 14, was the question of whether Diallo was properly trained on the double-decker emergency hand brake.
Lindsay Toll, OC Transpo training and development manager, said on April 6 that “a bus is a bus” and “it’s the same driving” when asked if and when Diallo was taught the emergency hand brake on the double-decker bus.
Phillip Latreille, an OC Transpo driver and relief instructor, told the court on April 14 that he was the one who taught Diallo the double-decker emergency brake in 2018 but had forgotten to include his training session with Diallo in the official progress report.
In a cross-examination of video evidence from the Jan. 11, 2019 crash, camera footage from the front and back doors, a forward-facing camera (showing the road ahead), and view from the stairs between upper and lower floors of the bus were all examined in court.
The Crown and Diallo’s defence lawyers, Solomon Friedman and Fady Mansour, argued the question of when the bus began to lose control. Their arguments were over what they could see (the bus shaking and passengers bracing themselves) and what they could hear (tires screeching) in the video footage.
A re-creation exercise was reviewed. The exercise involved another driver on a double-decker driving past Westboro bus station in similar weather conditions. After viewing the exercise footage, the Crown argued that glare from the sun could not have played a role in the 2019 collision.
The Crown also argued that Diallo failed to brake or steer meaningfully as the bus approached Westboro bus station and entered its final collision course. The Crown did, however, acknowledge the thick ice in the ditches and frozen snow banks on the sides of the bus route.
Testimonies from passengers of the crash included witness Brittney Worrall who sat at the lower level and witness Brian Thiessen who almost fell onto a floor full of shattered glass.
The trial is expected to last eight weeks.
Zoom recordings are available under Hearing Access Request at