2 children dead, 6 injured after city bus crashes into daycare in Montreal suburb Laval, driver arrested
Two children are dead and six others are injured after a Laval, Que. city bus crashed into a local daycare Wednesday morning.
Pierre Ny St-Amand, 51, has been arrested and faces charges of homicide and dangerous driving, according to a police source who spoke to Noovo Info.
The incident took place at the Garderie éducative Sainte-Rose on Dufferin Terrace in Laval’s Sainte-Rose district shortly after 8:30 a.m. Nine ambulances were sent to the scene, and the other six children are no longer in critical condition.
Dr. Marc Girard, a spokesperson for Montreals’ St. Justine’s Children’s Hospital, said four children between the ages of three and five were hospitalized with “various types of trauma” following the crash. The children — two boys and two girls — were conscious when they arrived at the hospital, which went into a code orange to free up resources to deal with the mass casualty situation.
One of them is in intensive care, while the others are being evaluated.
“It is very difficult to see how situation will evolve in young children but we want to make sure that they go back to their normal lives,” Girard said.
Two other injured children who need more critical care were sent to a hospital in Laval.
Aerial news footage from the scene shows the bus smashed into the front of the building. The daycare is located at the end of a driveway, and the driver would have had to leave the road and drive down the driveway to hit it. The reason for the crash is still unknown, and authorities are asking people to avoid the area.
A parent at the scene alleged the driver “entered the daycare parking lot and accelerated to crash into the daycare.”
“It was clear he wasn’t in his right mind at that moment,” she said.
Laval Mayor Stephane Boyer said police are looking into the events prior to the crash, adding that the driver had been employed with the STL for a decade.
A neighbour to the daycare said he rushed over to the scene of the crash. Hamdi Benchaabane told reporters that he and three parents managed to subdue the driver, who he said had stepped out of the bus, removed all his clothing and started screaming.
“He was yelling, he didn’t stop yelling,” Benchaabane said. “The first thing he did was take off all his clothes after opening the bus door … He was just yelling, there were no words coming out of his mouth.”
He said he and the others had to strike the driver to get him under control, before police cuffed the man. The driver, he said, “was in a different world.”
Pierre Ny St-Amand was arrested after a Laval city bus crashed into a daycare, killing two children and injuring more, according to Noovo Info police sources.
Benchaabane said he was able to help pull one child from the daycare, adding that he and the others tried to save a second child before firefighters ordered them to leave because pieces of the roof were at risk of falling.
“It was a nightmare, I can’t believe it,” he said of what he witnessed. “It was horrible.”
“Our hearts go out to the families and employees affected by this tragedy,” wrote Laval’s public transport agency, the STL, on social media.
“The Service de police de la Ville de Laval is currently conducting an investigation in which we are actively collaborating.”
The bus drivers’ union also wrote online that it’s “wholeheartedly with the families and daycare workers,” and that it’s in contact with police.
‘PANIC’ AMONG PARENTS
It was a chaotic scene at the daycare following the crash as parents scrambled for information on their children.
“Panic … panic … I called all my friends,” said Julia Moreno, who said her three-year-old son was not in danger.
“My friend’s son is at Sainte-Justine right now,” she continued. “I think he is okay.”
Montreal’s Sainte-Justine children’s hospital said in a statement it is “treating the young victims … with serious injuries requiring urgent care.”
“The hospital centre teams are doing everything they can to treat patients, but also to support families in this tragic situation,” it wrote.
Parents wait for news after a bus crashed into a daycare centre in Laval, Que., February 8, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
‘A TERRIBLE TRAGEDY’: PREMIER
Members of the Quebec legislature held a moment of silence in the Salon Bleu.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault said his thoughts are with the children and their families, as well as with the employees of the daycare in Laval. “We are going to give the parents all the help we can, and as a father, I am shaken.”
“There is nothing worse than being afraid for your child,” he wrote on social media. “I am thinking of the children, parents and employees.”
Public Security Minister Francois Bonnardel also wrote online, calling the event “extremely tragic.”
“We know very little about the circumstances,” he said. “Our hearts go out to the families concerned.”
He said a security perimeter has been established around the daycare. Bonnardel and Sainte-Rose MNA Christopher Skeete are headed to the Laval.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault ponders a question at a news conference to react to the Laval bus accident and the negotiations on health with the federal government,
Wednesday, February 8, 2023 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
“My heart is broken at this tragic event. I’ll be making my way back home today to offer my support to my community,” Skeete said on Twitter.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also responded to the crash.
“Our thoughts are with families in Laval who are living incredibly difficult moments … we hope that everyone will be OK,” he said. “We are following the situation closely.”
— This is a developing story. More to come. Published with files from Noovo Info and The Canadian Press.
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