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Amphibious tour bus crashes into fence of PM’s official residence

An amphibious tour bus crashed this morning into the fence at 24 Sussex Drive, the prime minister’s unoccupied official residence.

Etienne Cameron, a co-owner of Lady Dive Tours in Ottawa, says the company is investigating the crash involving one of its vehicles. The driver, whom he did not immediately identify, was the only person on board.

The driver would not give his name at the scene of the crash but said he’s completely fine and even the bus took very little damage.

Photos posted to social media this morning show a red “Amphibus” appears to have veered off the eastbound side of Sussex Drive onto the sidewalk and crashed into the black metal and stone fence outside the residence.

A large section of the fence had been knocked down entirely and rocks and rubble were strewn across the ground.

Cameron says the crash happened during a routine “morning check” during which a driver takes the bus out for a spin prior to tourists getting on board.

Ottawa police say they received a call about a single motor-vehicle collision involving a commercial vehicle at 9:21 a.m., and confirmed there are no reported injuries.

Police say the call came in at 9:21 a.m. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Shortly after noon, a heavy tow truck towed the bus away.

Police tape was strung around the scene and staff from the National Capital Commission, which is the Crown corporation responsible for preserving the capital area, were at the site as crews erected a temporary fence to close up the hole.

“The NCC is co-operating with the police investigation on the matter. In the meantime, we will work to secure the site,” said NCC spokeswoman Dominique Huras in a statement.

Bad timing for tourism season

Lady Dive Tours operations manager Leon Harris, who remained at the scene, said it’s still unknown how the crash occurred.

“Something happened and the bus lost control,” he said.

He said the bus will be towed to a garage to be examined and will be off the road for the season. The tour company only has one other amphibious bus and it will be challenging to operate without the other, he said, since August is such a busy tourist season.

Nothing like this has ever happened before, he added.

The amphibious bus is designed to travel on roads and in the water. It typically carries tourists past major downtown Ottawa attractions, including the prime minister’s residence and Parliament Hill, and into the Ottawa River.

The residence is not occupied by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau due to the need for extensive repairs. He lives at Rideau Cottage on the Rideau Hall grounds, though he’s currently on vacation in Costa Rica.

The crash was one of two bizarre incidents in downtown Ottawa Wednesday morning. Earlier Wednesday, a vehicle crashed into a Parliament Hill gate.

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