Saanich News

Bus driver assaulted while attempting to get help for teen

Two teens injured a B.C. Transit driver Friday night after the young men objected to him seeking medical attention for their intoxicated friend.

The driver called Saanich police dispatch around 9:20 p.m. Friday, concerned about the health of a 15-year-old female passenger who was apparently under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

While officers were en route to the bus exchange on Elk Lake Drive, the dispatcher heard the sounds of a struggle in the background, and someone say, "Get off me."

"When our officers arrived, they were met with one individual being restrained by another male, and as it turns out, that was the bus driver restraining a youth from the bus," said Sgt. Dean Jantzen.

Investigating officers determined that two of the three young men took exception to the bus driver calling police with concerns about their friend's health.

"That's what led to the struggle. One young male tried to take the phone away physically from the driver," Jantzen said. "When the driver essentially tried to defend himself, a second youth became involved in assaulting the driver, as well."

Because of the ongoing job action by bus drivers, members of CAW 333, the driver was not in uniform at the time of the incident.

As a result, Jantzen said when officers arrived, they had "no idea one of the people involved was a bus driver. It just looked like two guys fighting. But that certainly doesn't change how we respond to things."

Meribeth Burton, spokeswoman for B.C. Transit says this incident highlights the safety issues that can arise when drivers aren't in uniform.

"The uniform is a safety issue for B.C. Transit. It distinguishes our drivers from customers," she said. "Take away that (safety) barrier and people might misunderstand community assistance and confuse it with interference."

Ben Williams, president of CAW 333, says the safety of an employee at any company should not depend on whether or not they're wearing a work clothes.

"There are lots of jobs out there where employees don't wear uniforms. I don't think anybody should be assaulted, on the job or not, regardless whether or not they're in uniform or not," Williams said.

The driver suffered minor injuries to his face and head, Jantzen said, and was transported to hospital. The 15-year-old passenger was also taken to hospital.

Two young men, a 17-year-old Victoria teen and an 18-year-old Saanich resident, now face charges of assault causing bodily harm.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

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