Facing a public outcry, the Toronto Transit Commission has reinstated a streetcar driver who was suspended after chasing a man he believed had sexually assaulted a passenger.
Driver Dino Oroc was reinstated with no loss of pay on Friday, two days after being put on leave pending a disciplinary meeting for running after the man and leaving his streetcar full of passengers.
“We need to go through this process, what we called ‘relieved of duty’,” said Brad Ross, a TTC spokesman. “So something has happened, the employee is parked, if you will, until we can investigate further and have a formal meeting and then decisions are made. And so that is what has occurred.”
In the meeting, management “reinforced” procedures and protocols with Mr. Oroc, the TTC said.
The TTC’s suspension of Mr. Oroc sparked outrage on Twitter and in local media from people who say he should have been celebrated as a hero.
“Something is very wrong in our city when this happens. Shame on the #TTC,” Allison O’Keefe said via Twitter.
Mr. Oroc called the public outcry in his favour “a little overwhelming.”
“I was being a good Samaritan. I think anybody with a reasonable mind would have done the same thing,” said Mr. Oroc, who is 43 and has worked at the TTC for 13 years.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 plans to meet with management to ensure that “discretion and common sense” prevail in any similar situations, president Bob Kinnear said.
“We are comfortable today that this injustice is going to be corrected and that we will not have any future incidents of this kind,” he told reporters.
The incident happened around 1 p.m. Wednesday on the 501 Queen street car line near John Street. Mr. Oroc said a woman was “hysterical” and claimed a man had rubbed his crotch against her. When she called 911, he fled and she followed. Mr. Oroc trailed them in his streetcar and then jumped out to help chase the man, before losing him.
After investigating, however, police said Friday that there was no sexual assault. Rather, the man and woman got into a dispute and the man made “unintentional contact,” said Constable Tony Vella. The woman interpreted the contact as a sexual assault, he said.
TTC rules require drivers to remain in their vehicles, except for emergencies. Mr. Ross said Mr. Oroc didn’t tell passengers what was happening and put himself at risk by chasing the man.
However, drivers are allowed to stop to buy coffee, as long as they inform patrons, do so outside of rush hour and consider their passenger loads.