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Union president speaks out on Langley bus attack

Unifor Local 111 President Nathan Woods says the driver of the bus on which two women fought last week is upset that he has been accused of failing to act in the situation. - courtesy Unifor local 111
Unifor Local 111 President Nathan Woods says the driver of the bus on which two women fought last week is upset that he has been accused of failing to act in the situation.
— image credit: courtesy Unifor local 111

The bus driver in the thick of the violent assault, where a 43-year-old Surrey woman allegedly attacked a mother and her three very young children, is speaking out about the role he played in the shocking situation on May 20.

Unifor Local 111 President Nathan Woods says the bus driver involved is very upset that inaccurate information has misrepresented his role in acting quickly and appropriately to end the situation and ensure the safety of all passengers.

A fellow passenger posted 20 seconds of the fight, which shows the bus driver in the background. The video has gone viral.

“This violent episode with one passenger threatening a mother and her three children was deeply disturbing to the bus driver, but he moved quickly to separate the two women and the children and to get the instigator off the bus,” Woods said Saturday.

“Unfortunately, the short 20-second cellphone video only records a very small portion of this incident and media reports have given the public inaccurate information about what really happened,” Woods said.

The bus driver said there was a minor fare dispute with the accused when she first got on, but he drove four more blocks before the violent clash occurred between the mother and woman.

He said the mother asked the woman not to use foul language. That is when the accused, who is still in jail, allegedly threatened to kill the mother and her three children before throwing a drink at the mother’s baby son.

Defending her children, the mother fought the accused.

The bus driver asked TransLink’s control centre to call 911. He then claims he  stopped the bus and attempted to stop the fight.

Once the fight stopped, the bus driver said he told the mother, “it’s over, you won, good job.” and motioned her back towards her children.

The driver said he wanted the mother and children to stay on the bus for their safety, but while he was getting the instigator to leave the bus, the mother got off too, through a different door.

The 502 bus was stopped in front of the busy Willowbrook Shopping Centre.

The bus driver did not drive away from the scene, as was reported previously.

Woods said he remained on the scene for an hour, giving his account of the situation to police.

“The bus driver involved acted quickly in a violent, stressful situation with other passengers on board and did everything he could to avoid any further escalation into what truly could have been a tragedy had a weapon been used on the bus,” Woods said.

“Ultimately this unfortunate incident simply emphasizes what bus drivers and their union have been saying for the past 10 years as over 1,000 assaults on drivers have been recorded — we urgently, desperately need more security on the buses — for our members and for our valued riders,” Woods says.

Woods says there have been 44 assaults — as defined by the Criminal Code of Canada — on Metro Vancouver bus drivers from Jan. 1 to April 30.

In the meantime, Leah Susan MacKay, 43, who is facing charges of assault and uttering threats in relation to this attack, will be back in court on Friday, May 30. A psychiatric assessment has been ordered.

MacKay will also be in court facing other charges of assault, uttering threats and breaching her conditions for an incident in Langley on April 21.

When this alleged attack on the mother and her three children occurred, MacKay had posted bail just six days earlier.

She was found guilty and fined $500 plus 12 months probation for assault and fear of injury in a Nov. 28, 2013 incident that took place in Squamish.

In November 2010, MacKay was found guilty of assault in Langley and given 18 months probation. In November 2013, she was guilty of theft and breaching her probation.

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