Quebec: Driver charged with murder after two children die following bus crash into nursery

A woman carries a child from a daycare centre after a city bus crashed into the facility in Laval, Quebec (AP)
A woman carries a child from a daycare centre after a city bus crashed into the facility in Laval, Quebec (AP)

A bus driver has been charged with murder after crashing into a nursery in Quebec.

Two children died and six others were injured.

Police believe the suspect, Pierre Ny St-Amand, deliberately drove the bus into the daycare centre in Laval, north of Montreal, during Wednesday morning’s drop-off.

The 51-year-old, who had been employed as a bus driver by the local public transit system for 10 years, faces nine charges including two counts of first degree murder.

Police said “as of now, we don’t know the motive for the crime.”

Police set up a large perimeter around the building in Laval, Quebec, and panicked parents who ran to the center were diverted to a nearby elementary school after the incident.

Dozens of police and emergency vehicles lined the blocked-off road leading to the centre.

An eyewitness said immediately after the crash, the driver stepped out of the bus, ripped his clothes off and started screaming.

“He was just yelling; there were no words coming out of his mouth,” said Hamdi Benchaabane.

The driver has worked on the buses for 10 years and has no criminal history and a clean work record, police officials and Laval Mayor Stéphane Boyer said at two separate news conferences.

The centre is located at the end of a driveway off a cul-de-sac with no bus stop so the driver would have had to veer off the road and head down the long driveway to hit the building.

“There were no signs of skidmarks. .... He went directly into the day care,” said another eyewitness, Mario Sirois.

The six children who were hospitalized had injuries that were not life-threatening, Brochet said.

A senior Canadian government official said the crash was not a terrorist act and did not pose a threat to national security.

Benchaabane, who lives near the centre, said he rushed to the scene of the crash and he and three parents managed to subdue the driver.

He said they 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 centre, adding 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.”

Brochet said officers at the scene were crying. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his office was “following the situation closely.”