A group of bus drivers is at Surrey Provincial Court Friday morning for the bail hearing – which was delayed until April 22 – of Sean Tyler Quaye, a 25-year-old Surrey man charged in a vicious, unprovoked attack on a Coast Mountain Bus driver last month.
One-and-a-half-year-old Abbigail Hartman and her step-dad Brandon McInroy, who’s a bus driver, were among the group, with Abbigail wearing a T-shirt that read: “Please don’t hit my daddy…”
McInroy said he and his girlfriend brought the toddler to show that many transit workers have families and just want to be safe on the job.
He was among 40 or so drivers who showed up to court Friday to support their fellow injured transit worker.
Police say at approximately 8 p.m. on March 26, the 341 bus to Guildford picked up a man and woman on 72 Avenue at 132 Street. Within minutes, the man punched the operator in the face before jumping off the bus.
The bus was travelling at approximately 30 km/h and pulling into the left-turn lane at 144 Street at the time of the assault.
Despite having received a severe blow to the face which caused broken nose and facial bones, profuse bleeding and impaired vision, the driver managed to bring the bus to a stop and open the doors, allowing the attacker to leave.
Quaye, a tall, muscular white male with shortly shorn hair, was arrested by Transit Police officers on April 2 in the Newton area of Surrey, while driving a stolen vehicle. He has been charged with driving while prohibited and assault causing bodily harm. Police say he is well-known to them, particularly for crimes involving violence.
Nathan Woods, president of Unifor local 111, the union representing transit workers, said he was “absolutely pleased” Quaye would remain in custody for the time being.
“We’re happy that he’s not going to be standing at a bus stop near here,” said Woods.
Driver Mike McMillan said it was important not to focus only on Quaye, but others who put transit workers at risk.
“We have a lot of people doing the same thing out there,” he said.
Bus driver and Unifor officer Ruth Armstrong said there’s a criminal assault – be it physical or a verbal threat – on drivers every three days.
She said while the most recent Surrey incident injured the driver only, it could have easily been a passenger who was hurt.
“The public should be concerned,” Armstrong said.
Coast Mountain has for years considered installing clear plastic shields, but has held back because about half of drivers don’t want to use them due to heat, glare and space concerns.
“We don’t need to be behind bars, they (attackers) do,” said driver Shannon Stewart.