Trudeau to join vigil for Montreal daycare crash victims By Reuters
© Reuters. A Laval city bus is towed away after being pulled out of the daycare it crashed into, in Laval, Quebec, Canada February 8, 2023. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
By Nelson Wyatt
LAVAL, Quebec (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will join a grieving suburban Montreal community at a vigil on Thursday after a bus driver plowed his vehicle into a local daycare center, killing two children and injuring six other kids.
Police charged the driver, 51-year-old Pierre Ny St-Amand, with nine counts, including first-degree murder and assault offences. Authorities have not yet given any indication of a motive behind the incident in Laval, Quebec, as they wait for a psychological evaluation of the suspect.
Trudeau is expected to participate in a vigil in honor of the victims, along with Laval Mayor Stephane Boyer, the prime minister’s office said.
Earlier on Thursday, Quebec Premier Francois Legault, alongside leaders of provincial opposition parties and federal ministers, visited Laval, a suburban area northwest of Montreal known better for its historic houses.
“If there is one day where we have to show that Quebec is behind the people that experienced this terrible tragedy, today is the day,” Legault said, adding he and the other politicians were representing the sadness of the province’s 8 million residents.
Legault, the father of two grown children, said he and his wife Isabelle had discussed the horror of the losses earlier in the day. “How do you continue to live when something like that happens?”
He urged people to reach out to friends and family or to seek psychological counseling to cope.
Flags on some public buildings, including the Quebec provincial legislature, have been lowered to half-staff, and small shrines have been created near the scene of the tragedy.
At one point, a Laval police cruiser parked on the crime scene perimeter was piled high with stuffed toys, flowers and sympathy messages. More lie by a nearby fence and outside a local church where people stopped last evening to leave plush animals and candles as well to console each other.
On his way back to his car, Legault stopped to talk with parents who had dropped off their 2-1/2-year old daughter 10 minutes before the crash. She was doing well, but the parents said their older daughter might need some help. “She was friends with one of the children who died.”
“We’re with you,” Legault said, squeezing the woman’s arm.
Police have not confirmed the children’s ages, but according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp, about 80 kids under the age of 5 attend that daycare facility.
Authorities said St-Amand has worked for the Laval municipality’s public transit system for 10 years and does not have a criminal record. He was taken to a hospital after parents restrained him moments after the crash.
St-Amand will appear in a court on Feb. 17, Laval police spokesperson Erika Landry said, adding that the man hit a police officer during the arraignment.