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WESTBORO BUS CRASH TRIAL: Accident expert says crash involved four collisions

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“Although the bus is steered to the left,” an accident reconstruction expert testified Tuesday, “it continues to the right.” Author of the article: Andrew Duffy Aissatou Diallo has pleaded not guilty to three counts of dangerous driving causing death and 35 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm in connection with the OC Transpo bus…

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“Although the bus is steered to the left,” an accident reconstruction expert testified Tuesday, “it continues to the right.”

Author of the article:

Andrew Duffy

Aissatou Diallo has pleaded not guilty to three counts of dangerous driving causing death and 35 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm in connection with the OC Transpo bus crash at Westboro Station in January 2019. Photo by Tony Caldwell /Postmedia When OC Transpo bus 8155 slammed into the steel canopy of Westboro station, it represented the last in a series of collisions that defined the tragedy, a court has heard.

Accident reconstruction expert Richard Lamoureux said the Westboro bus crash actually involved four collisions.

“The collision sequence includes bus 8155 colliding into a snowbank, a rockface, and a second snowbank, prior to colliding into the station,” Lamoureux concluded in his reconstruction report presented in court Tuesday.

Video from cameras on board bus 8155 and the bus behind it show the double-decker steered into the gutter curb on the right shoulder of the Transitway and hit a snowbank before colliding with the Transitway’s rock wall, which sent it left.

Lamoureux told court that he believed the glare of the setting sun, combined with faded road lines painted during an earlier construction phase, were factors in sending the bus off the clear, dry roadway and onto the right shoulder, which was covered in snow and ice.

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Video reconstruction shows the bus first left the road at 3:50:12 p.m., at which time driver Aissatou Diallo’s hands can be seen turning the bus to the left, presumably in an attempt to regain the road, Lamoureux said.

“Although the bus is steered to the left,” he said, “it continues to the right.”

Lamoureux suggested the weight of the bus, combined with the snow and ice, put it into a skid that made it unresponsive to Diallo’s steering attempt.

The bus hit a snowbank one second later, Lamoureux said, and less than two seconds after that it mashed into the rock wall, shattering the glass of its front door.

“At this point, the bus is out of control,” Lamoureux told court.

According to data taken from computer modules on the bus, Diallo then activated the left turn signal on the bus floor and depressed the gas pedal. The driver was likely bracing for impact, Lamoureux said, noting that the action did not cause the bus to accelerate.

The bus hit a second snowbank less than a second later and slammed into Westboro Station at 3:50:17 p.m., five seconds after first leaving the road.

Lamoureux said research showed most drivers could react to an emergency in 1.5 seconds. Diallo, he said, faced a cascading series of events that made it impossible to process and react to them.

“What we have is a series of collisions occurring so quickly between them that a driver doesn’t have time to perceive, respond and react to that hazard before facing a different hazard,” he told court.

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Lamoureux’s report offers the public its first expert examination of the Westboro bus crash and the factors that contributed to it. The report calls for a moratorium on the use of double-decker buses on the Transitway until barrier protection is installed in its stations.

On Jan. 11, 2019, OC Transpo bus 8155 smashed into the leading edge of Westboro Station’s steel awning, which sliced into the second floor of the double-decker, killing three people.

A rookie OC Transpo driver, Diallo, 44, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of dangerous driving causing death and 35 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

The first defence witness to take the witness stand, Lamoureux told court that Westboro Station’s awning showed little evidence of damage after the crash.

“The steel structure itself is still straight, and even the polycarbonate plastic domes are still intact,” said Lamoureux, an engineer with Ottawa’s DFA Engineering Services Inc.

The frame of the awning is made from three-and-a-half-inch steel pipe, welded and bolted in place, he said. It ripped halfway through the right side of the double-decker, about 6.2 metres deep. Ten rows of seats were sheared from the floor or crushed.

At the time of the accident, Lamoureux said, the sun was six degrees above the horizon and “roughly in line with the driver’s line of sight” as she drove southwest into Westboro Station.

A file photo shows the OC Transpo bus involved in the crash at Westboro Station being towed from the scene. Photo by David Kawai /Postmedia The station itself, he said, had lane markers that were still visible from an earlier construction project that directed buses towards the shoulder of the road. The shoulder had once been paved to allow buses to drive on it, but that asphalt was removed after the construction project was completed, he said.

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It meant the gutter was filled with snow and ice when bus 8155 approached the station.

Lamoureux said the bus was equipped with snow tires, Bridgestone R192s, and data downloaded from the bus showed its brakes and other components were in good working condition at the time.

The Crown contends Diallo abdicated her responsibility as a professional driver when she failed to steer the speeding bus out of trouble as it entered Westboro Station.

Court has heard that the bus was travelling at more than 58 km/hr as it left the road and collided with the Transitway’s wall. The speed limit on that section of the Transitway is 50 km/hr.

According to computer data, Diallo applied the brakes six seconds before the collision with the wall, then again after the bus came to a stop in the bus shelter.

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National

State Window

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State Window has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2007, when it had just six employees. Today it has more than 550 permanent staff — as well as 250 subcontractors — and has completed over 230 development projects across the country. “When we first started the company, we didn’t have time to…

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State Window has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2007, when it had just six employees. Today it has more than 550 permanent staff — as well as 250 subcontractors — and has completed over 230 development projects across the country.

“When we first started the company, we didn’t have time to really think about becoming successful,” says founder, CEO and president Christopher Liberta via video chat from State Window’s sprawling headquarters in Woodbridge, Ont. “We just kind of did it.”

Liberta’s head-down approach has paid off over the past decade. In Ontario, the company’s windows, balcony doors and glass awnings will be featured in ambitious projects including the soon-to-be completed M City condo development in Mississauga, Vaughan’s new Transit City buildings and the Time and Space condo complex that is slated to take up an entire city block in Toronto’s downtown core.

And while the company is still considered a relative newcomer compared to some of its competitors, its proprietary technology and dedication to building sustainable products sets it apart. State Window’s R&D department uses a collaborative approach that generates the best ideas by engaging all staff: from architects to designers to construction workers, everyone is encouraged to pitch ideas on how to improve product offerings. No one holds a monopoly on new ideas, says Liberta: “Good ideas can be anywhere.”

Liberta credits State Window’s wins to how well its teams work together to stay on schedule in a sector that is notorious for delays. “Our core values are loyalty, trust in ability, passion and transparency,” he says. “When you have everyone living by that same philosophy, it just makes everything run smoothly. Everyone understands where everyone is and where they’ve got to be.”

Those values have been a guiding light during a tumultuous year in which State Window’s Vaughan, Ont., factory suffered two separate COVID-19 outbreaks. “The pandemic has been very challenging,” says Liberta. “It’s constant calls about how we’re dealing with outbreaks on sites.”

A few of the measures the company put in place include a six-foot-distance rule for employees, increased cleaning of work areas, the provision of PPE and sanitizers, the installation of portable sinks and Plexiglas dividers and the institution of temperature checks at entrances. For those who were unable to work due to illness, the company expedited bonuses to help them with cash flow and provided documentation needed for employment insurance.

It’s been a hard year, but Liberta believes that things are looking up. “We are constantly innovating to stay ahead of the curve,” he says. “We currently have five new products under development and two new concepts in the works that will address changing environmental needs over the next few decades.”

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National

Muraflex

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In late 2009, with his first child on the way, Fernando Petreccia had every intention of taking a break from work. He had spent the previous decade in the commercial-interiors industry — until the recession hit and people were no longer so keen on paying $40,000 for an office suite. Petreccia’s company closed. He thought…

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In late 2009, with his first child on the way, Fernando Petreccia had every intention of taking a break from work. He had spent the previous decade in the commercial-interiors industry — until the recession hit and people were no longer so keen on paying $40,000 for an office suite. Petreccia’s company closed. He thought maybe he’d paint the baby’s room. Then a call arrived from his former banker: a small, struggling five-year-old glass-partition startup called Muraflex needed someone to take over. Was Petreccia interested? “I learned very quickly that I’m not the guy to stay home,” he says.

At that time, offices tended to be dark and sombre — lots of painted drywall and padded cubicles. But as spaces shrunk in the wake of the market crash, Muraflex offered an appealing fix: glass walls that could make those environments feel bigger. “We came up with innovative ideas — like frameless sliding doors and curved walls — that really introduced the element of design,” says Petreccia, president and CEO, who runs the Montreal-based company with his brother, Marcello, the executive vice-president. Early clients like AIG and Condé Nast came to Muraflex for customized work spaces. Starbucks and Google followed suit.

Muraflex engineers its own products, such as glass and aluminum, right down to the hardware it uses. “We really control every aspect of the business,” Petreccia says. “If a client wants something shorter, taller, wider, slimmer — that’s no problem.” It also meant that when the pandemic hit, Muraflex didn’t see its supply chain disrupted.

But the pandemic did bring with it an urgent need for protective screens, so the company quickly created a small subdivision called MuraCare, which builds safe and functional partitions for hospital and workplace settings. Using Plexiglas and aluminum it already had on hand, the MuraCare team designed a number of products — protective partitions to sit on retail countertops but also “domes for hospital beds when doctors and nurses have to intubate a patient,” says Petreccia. As Muraflex began distributing these products throughout Canada and the U.S., the company found itself in a position to actually hire during the pandemic, expanding its workforce by about 10 per cent. Now employing more than 200 people, Muraflex expects to surpass $100 million in revenue in 2021.

Petreccia knows that office spaces are due for another evolution once the pandemic ends and workers return, and he’s confident that Muraflex will come up with creative solutions. “We don’t want to be catching the tail end of the wave,” he says. “We want to stand on top of the wave instead.”

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National

Turf Care Products Canada

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This Ontario company is still mowing down the competition after 46 years in the business There’s nothing like a supply-chain issue to turn even the most confident leader into a bundle of nerves. Over the past year, companies in a variety of industries have had to deal with mandatory lockdowns and physical-distancing logistics, but inventory…

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This Ontario company is still mowing down the competition after 46 years in the business

There’s nothing like a supply-chain issue to turn even the most confident leader into a bundle of nerves. Over the past year, companies in a variety of industries have had to deal with mandatory lockdowns and physical-distancing logistics, but inventory problems hit both small and mid-size companies in ways that few could have predicted.

For turf and irrigation equipment distributor Turf Care Products Canada, the ability to pivot fast helped it avoid the logistical headaches that plagued competitors and reinforced why it’s still one of the best in the country. “One of the strategies that served Turf Care well in getting back up to speed quickly when things started to open up was the foresight to safeguard against future supply-chain delays,” explains president Tim Trimper. “A commitment to take on more inventory much earlier than we normally would have allowed us to minimize disruption of service and maintain product-fill rates for customers.”

While Turf Care specializes in lawn care equipment, irrigation maintenance and parts distribution, it has also learned how to apply its knowledge of inventory management to other areas of the business. In November 2020, the company launched a new e-commerce platform that provides customers with 24-7 access to online ordering of thousands of landscaping and irrigation parts and accessories.

“The pandemic forced us to look inward and do more with less resources,” says Trimper. “Without a pandemic playbook, we were forced to think outside the box and we’ve been successful in doing that.” In addition to maintaining uninterrupted service and launching its e-commerce platform, Turf Care’s 2020 wins include expanding its operations to a new warehouse in Keswick, Ont.

Turf Care’s stronghold in the market has grown by leaps and bounds since the company started in 1975, when it operated out of a single office in Markham, Ont., with a staff of 20. Since then, it transitioned into a 160-employee set-up with seven offices and warehouses in Ontario and Quebec, and it now serves approximately 2,500 clients across the country each year.

Managing the employee-employer relationship is an ingredient in Turf Care’s secret sauce for staying ahead of the competition. The company promotes from within its ranks and creates a strong workplace culture facilitated by social events, like barbecues, and supporting employee-led charitable initiatives.

“We have many long-tenured employees,” says Trimper. “Many staff started working with us in the warehouse as summer students and went on to learn different aspects of the business and move into leadership roles.”

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