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17 sent to hospital after bus, streetcar collide

by Carola Vyhnak
Urban Affairs reporter

There was a long blast from a streetcar horn, “then a really loud bang.”

Shamil Ishraq ran from his house at the corner of River St. and Dundas St. E. to see a streetcar jammed into the back of a coach bus at a 90-degree angle.

“They pulled the driver out. He was able to talk. But I’m surprised he survived — the impact was huge,” Ishraq said.

The streetcar’s windshield was shattered and its nose crumpled.

Seventeen people, including the drivers of both vehicles and four schoolchildren, were taken to hospital following the mid-afternoon collision Thursday.

None of the injuries was life-threatening, Sgt. Christopher Tracey said at the scene, where the eastbound streetcar was forced off the rails by the impact.

“The streetcar tried to stop but collided with the rear of the coach,” he said, declining to speculate on whether one of the vehicles ran a red light.

The northbound Greyhound coach was empty except for the driver, but the streetcar was filled with about 30 passengers, including children returning from a field trip to Cosburn Middle School in the city’s east end.

Some were crying in shock, while the injured ones were on the ground covered with blankets.

Ambulances lined Dundas just east of the T-boned vehicles as paramedics tended to passengers then wheeled away stretcher after stretcher. The last of the injured, who appeared to be an older man wearing a neck brace, was removed around 4:30 p.m.

Tracey said the TTC driver suffered a hip injury while the coach driver hurt his shoulder.

Maria Austin, a crossing guard who works a block away, was at home nearby when she heard the collision.

“It was a loud noise. When I saw it was the TTC, I thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s a big vehicle to be knocked off the street.’ “

The intersection sees a lot of action, she said. “It’s chaos here. This corner gets a fair amount of accidents because drivers see the amber light and they speed up instead of slowing down.”

The streets were closed in all directions for several hours while crews gathered bits and pieces broken off the vehicles, and police and TTC conducted their investigation.