February 8, 2023

Bus crashes into Montreal day care, injures children

Laval, Canada, Police secure the scene where a city bus crashed into a day care center on February 8, 2023. – The bus crashed early Wednesday, injuring several children at the scene, Quebec emergency officials said. “A large perimeter has been deployed” around the partly-destroyed building, police in the city of Laval, where the daycare center is located, told AFP. Quebec’s Public Security Minister Francois Bonnardel said the bus driver was placed under arrest. (Photo by Anne-Sophie THILL / AFP)

A bus crashed into a Montreal day care center Wednesday, seriously injuring eight people — including children — with eyewitnesses suggesting the driver may have acted deliberately.

Canadian police did not immediately confirm the cause of the crash, which left several children trapped under the vehicle after it slammed into the building at around 8:30 am (1330 GMT).

“I helped subdue the driver who got off the bus,” one father told Radio Canada, crying. His wife said the man was “half undressed” and both saw him “ram deliberately into the daycare.”

The bus driver was under arrest, according to Quebec Public Safety Minister Francois Bonnardel, with police investigating whether the crash was intentional.

“I’m devastated. We all are,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “Obviously, we’re all hoping and praying that the kids are all right, or that they pull through and get well soon.

“(I) can’t imagine what the families are going through. But obviously, if there’s anything the federal government can do, (it) will be there.”

Images of the scene showed the bus smashed into a side of the building which is not located near the road but near a parking lot. Part of the roof collapsed on top of the front of the vehicle.

“We count at the moment eight seriously injured,” emergency services official Marianne Lessard told AFP, even as rescue operations continued.

A large perimeter was deployed around the partly destroyed building, police in the suburban city of Laval, where the day care is located, told AFP.

Another mother, holding her own child, said it was the center’s class of oldest children that was hit.

“It’s a shock, a lot of parents are panicking because they can’t get in, and their children are in there,” she added.

– ‘Terrible tragedy’ –

Victims were taken to Sainte-Justine hospital, which confirmed several were severely injured. The hospital was set to have a press conference later in the day.

“What a terrible tragedy this morning in Laval,” Quebec Premier Francois Legault tweeted.

“There is nothing worse than being afraid for your child. I am thinking of the children, the parents and the employees,” he added.

“As a father, I am shaken,” he said later at a press conference.

“I can understand the anguish that the parents are going through,” he said.

“I am shocked by this news. The investigation continues to understand this tragic series of events,” tweeted Stephane Boyer, the mayor of Laval, the third-largest city in Quebec.

“All of my support to the parents at these difficult moments,” he added, saying he was going to the scene to meet with the families.

“Laval is wholeheartedly with you and will be there for you.”