Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rider steers Olympic bus to safety after driver dies

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COQUITLAM, B.C. -- A bus driver riding as a passenger on a shuttle used for the Olympics is being lauded for taking control of the vehicle after the man at the wheel died suddenly.

The 71-year-old driver was transporting five other bus drivers to work Monday morning on the Trans-Canada Highway in Coquitlam when he apparently had a massive heart attack, the RCMP and Olympic organizers said.

One of the other drivers riding on the shuttle took control almost immediately and stopped the bus in the highway's high-occupancy lane, said Renee Smith-Valade of the Olympic organizing committee.

"We understand that another driver on board who demonstrated a remarkable commitment to the safety of others was able to pull the vehicle over safely and put on the flashers," Smith-Valade said on Monday.

"Everyone on our workforce at VANOC feels personally when we lose someone who's part of our team, and we'll be keeping the driver and our transportation team in our thoughts today."

She said the other drivers on the bus were given the day off on Monday and offered counselling.

The driver was employed by U.S.-based Gameday Management, which operates the Olympic Bus Network, although a spokesperson for the company wasn't available for comment.

Neither police nor Olympic organizers released the driver's name or said where he was from.

RCMP Cpl. Lea-Anne Dunlop said the passenger acted quickly.

"It was pretty much instantaneous that another driver on the bus was able to take control . . . so at no time were there other motorists impacted by this incident."

The provincial coroners service and the RCMP's traffic division are investigating.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 23, 2010 A4

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