The driver of a bus that crashed into a daycare in Laval, Quebec, on the morning of Feb. 8, killing two children and injuring six others, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
Pierre Ny St-Amand, 51, and an employee of the city’s transit authority, Société de transport de Laval, appeared by video later that day from a hospital room and will remain detained.
St-Amand faces a total of nine charges, including attempted murder, aggravated assault, and assault causing bodily harm, according to court documents.
Laval Mayor Stéphane Boyer said the driver had worked for the transit agency for about 10 years and had no incidents of note on his file.
The Epoch Times reached out to Société de transport de Laval for comment but didn’t receive a reply by publication time.
The dead children, identified in the documents only by their initials, were both 4 years old.
Six other children who were injured were transported to hospitals in Laval and Montreal. Documents list them as being 4 and 5 years old.
Two boys and two girls are being treated at Montreal’s Sainte-Justine children’s hospital.
“The patients are in stable condition. The hospital’s teams are doing their utmost to provide the best care to the patients who need it, but also to support the families, to whom we offer psychosocial services in this tragic situation,” a Sainte-Justine spokesperson told The Epoch Times via text message.
Officials at Laval’s Cité-de-la-Santé hospital said they received three crash victims, one of whom died. The other two are under observation in the emergency department, Dr. Patrick Tardif, head of emergency at the hospital, told The Canadian Press.
Witnesses who arrived at the daycare soon after the crash said the driver was yelling and seemed delirious, and removed his clothing.
Local resident Hamdi Benchaabane told reporters that he and three others subdued the driver.
“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.”
He said the driver “was in a different world.”
The resident said he was able to pull one child from the daycare and tried to help another before firefighters took over as pieces of the roof were at risk of falling.
“It was a nightmare, I can’t believe it,” Benchaabane said. “It was horrible.”
Mario Sirois was among the first on the scene, he told The Canadian Press. “It can’t be an accident,” Sirois said. “There were no signs of skid marks. It was deliberate. He went directly into the daycare.”
The location of the daycare, Garderie Éducative Ste-Rose, is at the end of a cul de sac and the driver would have had to veer off the road, head down a driveway and through a parking lot about a dozen spaces long to hit it. The driver hit the daycare with such force that most of the front half of the bus was embedded in the building.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to the crash from Ottawa.
My heart is with the people of Laval today,” he said in a tweet. “No words can take away the pain and fear that parents, children, and workers are feeling—but we are here for you. I’m keeping everyone affected by this unfathomable, tragic event in my thoughts.”
Quebec Premier François Legault said the provincial flag will be flown at half mast on Feb. 9 on the central tower of the National Assembly of Quebec.
“All of Quebec is in mourning. With all my heart [I’m] with the victims and their loved ones,” he posted on Twitter.
He added he would visit Laval on Feb. 9.
“I will be going to Laval tomorrow, accompanied by the leaders of the opposition parties, to offer my full support to the families and staff affected by this terrible tragedy.”
Tara MacIsaac and The Canadian Press contributed to this report.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the date on which Quebec Premier François Legault said he would visit Laval and the provincial flag will be flown at half mast at the National Assembly of Quebec. The date is Feb. 9, 2023. The Epoch Times regrets the errors.