Family wants answers after daughter fatally struck by Montreal transit bus

Click to play video: 'Family wants answers after daughter killed by Montreal transit bus last month' Family wants answers after daughter killed by Montreal transit bus last month
WATCH: The family of a woman killed by a public bus last month are demanding answers. The woman was hit in downtown Montreal. Her parents are traumatized by what happened. As Amanda Jelowicki reports, they say police are giving them next to no information about why the accident happened. – Feb 19, 2021

Devastated family members of a woman hit and killed by a public transit bus in downtown Montreal last month are demanding answers as to the circumstances of the collision.

“We are asking questions. We want to know how this happened,” said Laleh Tajrobehkar, Yasaman Salehi’s mother.  “It should not have happened.”

Around 5 p.m. on Jan. 22, Yasaman Salehi — known to her family as “Yassi,” was walking at the corner of Mansfield and Ste. Antoine streets downtown, near the Mansfield bus terminal, on her way home from work.

Somehow, the 27-year-old was struck by an Exo bus pulling into the station.

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She was dragged under the bus before the driver even noticed what had happened.

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“We were told that the driver of the bus didn’t even realize that he had hit my daughter,” said Reza Salehi, the woman’s father. “Another driver in the parking lot notified him. I don’t know how you can hit someone and not even realize it.”

Yassi was rushed to the Montreal General hospital with devastating injuries.

Police called her parents to tell them about the horrific incident.

‘Police told me she was in a bad way. And it just struck me. I asked, ‘Is she alive?'” said Laleh.

Yassi underwent several surgeries, but doctors told her parents she had suffered traumatic brain injuries, and she would likely be in a vegetative state for life.

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Her parents made the heartbreaking decision to take her off life support. They sat in the room with her, alongside her boyfriend, playing a song they had hoped to play one day at her wedding.

“I don’t know how you can describe your child dying in your arms,” said Laleh. “She was in my arms and I was kissing her. At some point, I felt she was getting cold. They told me it was over, it was done. Now you can imagine how that could feel, feeling your beloved child die. She was not sick, she was healthy, she was ready to take on the world.”

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Yassi’s parents say they’ve received little to no information from the Montreal police since the collision. They have asked for answers as to the circumstances of the accident. They aren’t satisfied with what police are telling them.

“I don’t know if they checked his phone, if they tested him for alcohol, nothing,” said Laleh. “They did not provide any answers to our questions. When I pressed, they told me I was trying to find someone to blame. I don’t think that’s a very compassionate answer. It’s their job to find what happened.”

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Montreal police told Global News they couldn’t comment on the case. They referred Global News to Quebec’s coroner, who is conducting an investigation. The coroner deferred commenting until the investigation is complete, which will likely take months.

It was an Exo Quebec driver who was involved in the fatal collision. In a statement, Exo media spokesman Catherine Maurice said:

“The SPVM incident report concluded it was an accident. There was no negligence on the part of the driver. Neither is it an accident caused by speed or a dangerous maneuver. Note, however, that the pedestrian crossed the bus loop diagonally despite this being dangerous and forbidden.”

She continued that extra security has been added.

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“(We have a) reminder to bus drivers to pay special attention to pedestrians in bus loops, and specifically at the Mansfield terminal. A virtual campaign is underway with Exo customers on bus blind spots and the dangers of crossing bus loops outside of designated areas.”

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Yassi’s parents had heard extra security had been added at the station.

“This kind of acknowledged this was something wrong,” Laleh said. “Right after the accident, they added more security to the area. It shows there is something they neglected to do and caused our daughter’s fatal accident but they aren’t admitting to anything.”

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Yassi’s parents say she was at the peak of her life. She had just moved to Montreal in November, after completing a Master’s in Occupational Therapy from the University of Toronto. She had started a job that month at the Lethbridge-Layton-MacKay Rehabilitation Centre.

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“I have never seen her happier. She lived with her boyfriend, doing her job she loved and feeling she was at home,” said Laleh. “That makes it hard that she lost all that happiness by this accident. She was at the high point of her life.”

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Colleagues at the MacKay Centre said they were stunned by Yassi’s death, saying she had quickly fit in and made many friends.

“Yassi was a very kind person, a sweet person, very bright and hardworking,” said Catalina Estevez, program manager at the centre. “In the very short time she was with us she made quite an impression … Her death came as a shock, and left everyone distressed.”

Read more: Alberta woman grieves loss of mother hit and killed by vehicle while helping someone else

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The family said Yassi was devoted to giving back, volunteering at several charities. They set up an online fundraising campaign in her memory, hoping to raise $27,000 for Food Banks Canada. To date, well over $55,000 has been raised.

“She was a giver. I can imagine this would make her very happy,” said her father, Reza.

The family misses Yassi’s laugh, her smile, how she loved her younger brother. They listen and watch videos of her, smiling when she laughs.

But they say they won’t be able to rest until they have found out why her daughter died in such a horrific way.

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