THE MOON AND THE TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION

CASA LOMA/RUSSELL HILL SUBWAY ACCIDENT AUGUST 11th 1995

INQUEST DAY ZERO – Mon 6th November 1995

PRELIMINARIES

 

          The following is a report of the first day of the inquest into the Subway accident in August. Before you read any further, please read the introduction so that you will be aware of my biases and also how this section of my home page is set up.

 

         My involvement with the subway was rekindled by the Computerized Train Despatch and Information System (CTDIS or CTD), which is in use today to help the tower keep track of individual run numbers on the subway. It was also the precursor of the Intermediate Point Headway Control computer system which was added in the last few years. This record is designed for TTC employees and others who might like a slightly different insight into the proceedings than that offered by the Fourth Estate and the official records – both TTC and the Coroner’s Office. If you want accuracy, see the court record!!

 

 

 

         THE INQUEST BEGINS  - POSTPONED TO 5th DECEMBER!!

 

         The inquest into the Subway Accident in August 1995 commenced at the Coroner's Office on Grosvenor Street in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Monday 6th November 1995.

 

         Courtroom A is an L shaped room with the Coroners bench raised about two feet above the floor level in the very right angle of the L. An impressive immensely large circular fluorescent light is imbedded in the ceiling above the Coroner and the court reporter. Six chairs, empty today, are also slightly raised for the jury. The lawyers, about 15 altogether, sit at two benches at the junction between the arms of the L and the central square portion, the public (and the media!!) are in rows in both arms of the L.

 

         It had been rumoured before the commencement of the inquest that there would be an adjournment immediately, so the day's proceedings were concerned with who has standing at the inquest. After morning presentations on the interests of various lawyers and parties and an adjournment for lunch, the Coroner, Dr R. Huxter, approved and rejected the standing of the various parties.

 

 

Cast of Characters

(Without which no drama is complete)

 

NAME

FUNCTION

REPRESENTING

Dr. R. Huxter

Coroner

You and me

Mr. Chris Punter

Lawyer

Crown/Coroner/Public Interest

Mr. Brian Leck

Lawyer

Toronto Transit Commission

Mr. Falzone

Lawyer

Local 113 Amalgamated Transit Union & Mr. Jeffries

Mr. Wehr

Lawyer

-----||-----

Mr. Brown

Lawyer

-----||-----

Mr. Kemp

Lawyer

The deceased

Mr. Birenbaum

Lawyer

-----||-----

Mr. Savin

Lawyer

-----||-----

Mr. Wobowski

Lawyer

Dr. McCallum & Sunnybrook Hospital

Mr. Mendelson

Lawyer

Toronto Fire Department

Mr. McNaught

TTC Employee

Danforth Division Health & Safety Committee

Mr. McGavan

Lawyer

A Mr. Godi & 700 passengers in a class action suit

Mr. Underwood

Lawyer

Wismer & Becker – a sometime operative in the Construction  Industry

Mr. Dave Irwin

Retired TTC Employee

Your Erstwhile Reporter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Huxter allowed Wobowski and Mendelson to represent their clients only as far as their clients interest are specifically under scrutiny (the rescue), there being no suggestion that their clients had anything to do with the CAUSE of the accident.

 

         The coroner was unsure as to Underwood's standing as Wismer and Becker had only just retained him being unaware until recently that "they may be involved". As such they are also potential witnesses who need to be investigated.

 

   McNaught and McGavan were denied standing.

 

         Dr Huxter took arguments for adjournment and after representations from practically everybody, he adjourned the inquest to 10 a.m. on the 5th December, 1995.

 

 COMMENTS

 

         Despite a throwaway comment by Brian Leck that the inquest should be only concerned with the fairly narrow area of the cause of the accident so that the inquest could stay focused and stand a chance of having any recommendation approved by the various levels of government; the Crown Attorney, Mr. Punter, said that the inquiry would examine the whole environment at the TTC.

 

         There were about 70 people in the audience and other than the lawyers most seemed to be media. It will be interesting to see how they report it.

 

         One of the lawyers for the class action group in his remarks said "Red means Go, Yellow means Go, Green means Go and White means Go Like Hell!!". The Crown tried to soften this "bit of evidence" but it sounds like the class action group, had they been given standing, were going to drag up some dirt - it may get dragged up anyway - we'll see.

 

         The media, represented by Global TV, City TV, CBC TV, and CFTO TV, the Toronto Sun and assorted other newspapers were their usual disgraceful self. It seems to be impossible for these totally frenetic people to sit silently for any longer than two minutes. They talk loudly amongst themselves, they are constantly in motion, leaving the room to chat, phone, smoke cigarettes etc. and generally behave in a manner that is quite disruptive to the proceedings they are supposed to be observing. This is not the first time I have seen this bunch of children perform in this way and I was quite happy to see other people ask them to keep the noise down.

 

 

 

                                    Dave Irwin - 6th November 1995

 

 



 

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