(UPDATE: Feb. 8 @ 2:20 pm) - The driver of a bus that crashed into a suburban Montreal daycare this morning, killing two children, has been charged with two counts of first−degree murder.
Pierre Ny St−Amand, 51, appeared by video late this afternoon from a hospital room and will remain detained
Court documents show he faces a total of nine charges, including attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault causing bodily harm.
Six other children were injured and transported to hospitals in Laval and Montreal, but doctors said their lives were not in danger.
At around 8:30 a.m., a Société de transport de Laval bus crashed into the daycare building, which sits at the end of a driveway a significant distance from the nearest bus route.
Witnesses who rushed to the scene said they had to subdue the driver, who seemed to be delirious and removed his clothing after getting off the bus.
(UPDATE: Feb. 8 @ 9:40 am) - Police say two children are dead and six others were seriously injured after a city bus crashed into a daycare north of Montreal.
They say the 51−year−old bus driver has been arrested and faces charges of homicide and dangerous driving.
Erika Landry, spokesperson with the police in Laval, Que., says the injuries suffered by the six children in hospital are not life−threatening.
She says police are trying to determine the motive and that the suspect will be met by investigators.
Witnesses said several people had to subdue the driver after he got off the bus, adding that the suspect seemed delirious.
Authorities did not release the ages of the dead and injured children.
(Original story: Feb. 8 @ 8:15 am) - Eight people, including several children, have been sent urgently to hospital after a city bus crashed into a daycare north of Montreal Wednesday morning in what witnesses said appeared to be a deliberate act.
Emergency services did not immediately say how many of those injured in the crash in Laval, Que., were children.
The bus driver, an employee of the Société de transport de Laval, has been arrested, Quebec Public Security Minister François Bonnardel told reporters. “It’s terrible," Bonnardel said in Quebec City. "It’s a terrible tragedy."
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."
Benchaabane said he believes the driver deliberately drove into the daycare, which is located at the end of a driveway off a cul−de−sac. There is a bus stop on the cul−de−sac, but the driver would have had to veer off the road and head down the long driveway to hit the building.
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."
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.”
Laval Mayor Stéphane Boyer said the driver has worked for the transit agency for about 10 years and has no incidents of note on his file.
"There is a theory that it was an intentional act, but that remains to be confirmed by the investigation," Boyer said.
Montreal’s Sainte−Justine children’s hospital has received some of the injured. The hospital said in a statement it is "welcoming 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."
Earlier Wednesday, Quebec Premier François 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."
Aerial news footage from the scene showed a city bus that had smashed through the front of the Garderie Éducative Ste−Rose. Laval police said they received a 911 call at about 8:30 a.m., but they were unable to give details about what caused the bus to hit the daycare.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau 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."
Dozens of police and emergency vehicles lined the blocked−off road leading to the daycare. Panicked parents tried to run down the road to the site, but were redirected to a nearby elementary school building that has been turned into a gathering point.