Father recounts moments after bus hit Quebec daycare center, killing 2 children
LAVAL, Quebec - Grief-stricken people dropped off flowers and stuffed animals Thursday outside a Quebec daycare center that was smashed into by a city bus, killing two children and sending six to hospitals.
André Beaudoin, a father of a 2-year-old boy who attends the center in Laval, a town north of Montreal, was back a day after he pushed through debris to help pull injured children from under the bus that rammed into the building.
"I managed to get four out. The last girl … her head was stuck really bad," he told reporters.
Beaudoin said that Wednesday morning he had just parked his car to drop off his son when he saw the bus barrel into the daycare center. He said he ran into the building and although most of the children had already left the building, "We heard the screams" of trapped children.
"I was the first under the bus …," he said. "I have kids … so to me, there are kids under the bus, you have to get them out. No matter what happens."
Large sheets of plywood covered the damaged wall Thursday, next to a cheerful sign with pink letters bearing the name of the center, Garderie Éducative Ste-Rose. Piles of debris from the damaged roof and interior lay in the snow.
People, many in tears, stopped by to pay their respects and add to the growing memorial of flowers and stuffed toys in a snowbank outside the center where two 4-year-olds died in the incident.
Two of the six children had been released from the hospital, while four youngsters remained under treatment, Montreal health officials said.
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Montreal’s Sainte-Justine children’s hospital said in a statement that two children remaining there were in a "favorable" state of health. Two youngsters remained at a Laval hospital, and doctors said their lives were not in danger.
Pierre Ny St-Amand, a 51-year-old driver with the Laval transit corporation, was arrested at the scene Wednesday. He faces two counts of first-degree murder as well as seven other charges, including attempted murder and aggravated assault.
Authorities said Thursday that they were still trying to understand what could have led someone to drive a bus into the daycare center.
"The motive remains incomprehensible still today," Public Security Minister François Bonnardel told reporters in Quebec City.
Asked what authorities could have done to prevent the incident, Bonnardel said: "No one can predict this kind of event. No one can predict that someone gets up in the morning, takes off with a bus and decides to hit a daycare with a bus."
Witnesses said the driver was delirious after exiting the bus, tore off his clothes and screamed as several people restrained him on the ground until police arrived.
Late Wednesday, a police cruiser and two officers were stationed outside St-Amand’s home on a quiet suburban street about 10 kilometers (six miles) from the daycare center. Several neighbors described him as a quiet, pleasant father of two young girls.
One man, Thanh-Ry Tran, said his family got together with St-Amand’s family a few times a year, adding that their wives would sometimes help each other in picking up or dropping off children. He said St-Amand had never shown signs of distress.
Lionel Carmant, the government minister responsible for social services, told reporters in Quebec City that regional health officials in Laval found no evidence that St-Armand had received care for mental health issues.