Three students killed when SUV collides with city bus



In Loving Memory of Vanessa Crawford Facebook Group


Vanessa Crawford, left, and Brianne Deschamps.

DAVID GONCZOL/for Metro Ottawa

A lone student walks beneath flags that were hung at half-mast yesterday at Carleton University. The campus was in mourning after news broke that three university students had been killed in an early morning collision between a city bus and an SUV.

Flags were lowered to half-mast at Carleton University as the campus grieved for three students who died early yesterday when the Toyota 4-runner SUV they were riding in struck an OC Transpo Bus.

Police had yet to confirm the deceased persons’ names yesterday, though friends and classmates identified them as Mark MacDonald, 20, Brianne Deschamps and Vanessa Crawford, both 19.

A third female passenger was released from hospital yesterday while a male passenger was taken to the Ottawa Trauma Centre where he underwent surgery.

Police said the male driver, believed to be MacDonald, was one of the deceased. The bus driver and a lone passenger were uninjured, according to the Ottawa Paramedic Service.

Police said alcohol might have been a factor in the collision that happened at 1:50 a.m. at Heron Road and Riverside Drive — an intersection identified by a recent Ottawa Road Safety Report as one of the highest collision areas in the city.

The bus was travelling north on Riverside when it collided with the westbound Toyota on Heron. The bus driver told police he had a green light.

Carleton University sent a short e-mail message to all students informing them of the deaths. Flags were lowered as a sign of mourning.

Dr. Samy Mahmoud, Carleton’s interim president and vice-chancellor, wrote, “I … extend my sincere condolences to the families of the three victims and hope and pray for the recovery of the other two people involved.”

As word of the deaths circulated, friends opened a dedicated Facebook site to collect condolences: “ness, you were awesome with a sparkle in your eye, you had such a upbeat personality that was impossible not to notice. i will miss,” wrote one poster, nicknamed ‘craven’.

Carleton University Students Association President Shelley Melanson said she’ll be contacting university officials about a memorial service, but the priority was to make counselling available for students in need of support.

“There is a large group of students on this campus who are feeling a deep sense of loss right now,” she said.

MacDonald was a competitive swimmer with the Nepean Kanata Barracudas, but had stopped swimming shortly before starting at Carleton.

Deschamps and Crawford both attended Lambton Central Collegiate Vocational Institute in Petrolia, in southwestern Ontario.

Scotia Patrick, a friend from Sarnia who took dance lessons and performed with Crawford, remembered her yesterday as a fun-loving person who loved to move.

“There’s lots of people in (her hometown) who are very upset about this,” she said.

The coroner had ordered an autopsy for the SUV’s driver while police investigators have ordered a mechanical inspection of the vehicles, said Ottawa Police Constable Isabelle Lemieux.