As most people reading this post know, September 18, 2013, was a terrible day in Ottawa. An OC transpo bus and a Via Rail train collided, killing five passengers – Michael Bleakney, Connor Boyd, Karen Krzyzewski, Rob More and Kyle Nash – and the driver of the bus, David Woodard. The cause of the crash still hasn’t been determined. It was a sunny day, with clear roads. The warning lights were flashing, the crossing gate was down. Did the brakes malfunction? Was the driver momentarily distracted? Blinded by the sun? Suffering some medical crisis?
Lawsuits were sure to follow, and they have. Not only against the city, as one might expect, but also against the estate of David Woodard. Two of the families of the dead, and one survivor – seeking payment for permanent disfigurement and injury – are suing David’s estate for up to $3.2 million. They are accusing David of negligence, and want compensation for their suffering. But David won’t be paying. He is beyond the reach of the courts. The people who will pay are David’s family – his wife and three children.
David is remembered by co-workers and customers as a competant, friendly driver. His friends and family call him a giver, always ready to help. He apparently had a keen sense of humour, and loved road trips and camping and karaoke. In other words, he was more than a bus driver who got into a fatal accident – and the people who loved him are still struggling with how to fill the hole in their lives and heal their hearts. It’s incredibly cruel to put them through a lengthy litigation process over something that cannot be fixed, no matter what any judge decides.
My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone involved in that horrible accident. I wish all of them comfort and peace. I wish them answers – there aren’t any yet, and it will likely be a long time before they surface. Although I know how it feels to lose someone dear to me, I don’t know how it feels to lose a spouse or a child. And I don’t know how it feels to know that it happened in such a violent way. What I do know, though, is that comfort and peace can’t be bought – and, even if they could, you can’t buy them with money gained at the expense of people who are already hurting just as badly as you are.