Westboro crash victims, survivors demand answers
Families of victims and survivors are speaking out, demanding answers one day after learning the woman behind the wheel of the fateful Westboro bus is facing more than three dozen charges.
Karen Benvie laid her mother, Judy Booth, to rest exactly seven months ago. Booth was sitting on the top level of the double decker bus which crashed into the station overhang; killing Booth along with passengers Bruce Thomlinson and Anja Van Beek.
The 42-year-old driver, Aissatou Diallo, was charged with 3 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 35 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
“It's a step forward, but that's where it ends. Because we still don't have answers and it's still a nightmare,” said Benvie on the charges laid against the bus driver. “I don't think she's the only person responsible for what happened so in my eyes she's not 100% to blame. So I feel sorry for her.”
Searching for answers, desperately from the city and police, families want to know what happened and how, if at all, the tragedy could have been prevented. Benvie’s confidence in accountability from the transit system has been shaken.
“I have zero confidence, in OC Transpo, zero. I really don't feel like they've taken any responsibility for this.”
Frustration for families of those who lost their lives in the @OC_Transpo Westboro bus crash - with a lack of answers + official results on why the tragedy happened or whether it could’ve been prevented. The driver is the only person criminally charged @ctvottawa pic.twitter.com/07iDj5b8FX— Mike Arsalides (@MArsalidesCTV) August 24, 2019
Karin Hohban nearly lost her legs when they were crushed in the mess atop the double decker bus. Hohban still has very little mobility and is unable to walk on her own two feet. Her sister, Roberta Saunders, said news of the charges against the driver stir up a variety of emotions and added confusion.
“She is upset by it, she's angered by it. Because you know, when somebody is charged, clearly there is a reason for that, and she doesn’t know what those reasons are. She doesn’t have those answers,” said Saunders. “She sees a double decker bus and it emotionally brings her right back there.”
Hohban's loved ones continue to lift her spirits, and those recovering with her after the crash. Hohban spent several weeks in hospital following the crash surrounded by other victims in critical and serious condition. While Hoban’s recovery has featured its share of ups and downs, she remains hopeful everyone involved in the crash will overcome challenges with overwhelming support from the community playing a major role in the healing process.
“It warms her heart and it's with that public support, it goes a long way in helping emotionally get through all the uncertainties she is going through right now,” said Saunders of Hohban. “She is not going to be the person she was before, right and that's starting to sink in because her recovery is so slow.”
Several civil lawsuits have been launched against the driver, City of Ottawa and OC Transpo seeking millions of dollars in compensation for the victims and their families.