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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Bus rams day care, kills 2 in Quebec

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Laval, Canada—A driver charged with first-degree murder after ramming his bus into a day care center in Canada and killing two children was ordered Thursday to undergo psychiatric evaluation, as mourners laid flowers and lit candles for the victims.

Pierre Ny St-Amand, 51, faces nine counts and is scheduled to appear in court again on February 17.

“He is so far presumed fit to appear,” Karine Dalphond, the prosecutor in charge of the case, told AFP.

In the city of Laval, a suburb of Montreal, incomprehension and anger dominated a day after St-Amand drove his bus into the nursery as some parents were dropping off their children.

Mourners—among them Canadian politicians, Laval residents and people who had traveled from other cities—came to lay flowers or stuffed toys and to light candles at the site as well as at a nearby church.

“It’s a terrible tragedy, I’ve been speechless since yesterday,” said Yannick Lebeau, who came with his wife from their home 20 kilometers (12 miles) away to pay tribute.

His wife Annick Belisle, a teacher for 20 years, was in tears at his side. She called the deaths “senseless.”

“Words fail me to express how infinitely sad it is, it’s terrible,” said Laval resident and mother of two Veronique Chamberland. AFP

The day care suffered serious damage, with part of its facade broken and covered with plywood. Debris was still scattered over the ground Thursday.

Some of the children were trapped under the bus before being freed.

One child died on the scene and another in an ambulance, authorities said, while a further six children were rushed to hospital but have since been deemed out of danger.

“If there is a day when we must show that all of Quebec is behind those who lived this terrible tragedy, it was today,” said provincial premier Francois Legault, who visited the scene.

“There is nothing harder than losing a child. How do you go on living?” he added.

“It was really a hard, dramatic day. We just spoke with some of the parents and they showed an unimaginable level of courage,” said Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.

St-Amand appeared briefly at a hearing Wednesday, hours after the tragedy, where he refused to speak but nodded to answer the judge’s questions, smiling broadly and repeatedly trying to sit up from the bed to which he was handcuffed.

Witnesses who tried to subdue him after the crash said he was acting erratically, including removing all his clothes. AFP


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