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A crash between a TTC bus and a crane truck left one passenger dead and nine others injured in one of the worst collisions in the recent history of the transit system.

Shortly before 2:30 p.m., the westbound bus was travelling behind the truck in the middle lane of Lawrence Avenue East as the road descends toward a bridge over the Don Valley Parkway.

The bus appears to have tried to move into the passing lane, police said, slamming into the back of the truck, which careened across the road, crushed a guardrail and came to rest in a grassy shoulder next to the DVP on-ramp.

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The right front corner of the bus crumpled, the bumper fell off and the door was mangled beyond recognition. A 43-year-old woman, who was riding near the front, was killed. Six other passengers were seriously hurt and taken to trauma centres; three more went to other hospitals and four passengers were checked out at the scene.

Neither the bus nor the truck driver appeared to be seriously hurt.

Investigators are trying to determine how quickly each vehicle was moving and whether either one used its brakes in the second before the collision. It was not immediately certain what caused the crash or if anyone would be charged.

Officials did not release the woman's name, but confirmed she was a Toronto resident. Early in the evening, one young woman arrived at the scene and broke down, screaming, crying and rolling around on the ground as officers tried to console her. Two young men were also taken aside by police, who indicated they might be family or friends of the victim.

The bus, number 7461, was pulled away by a tow truck around 7 p.m. The truck, belonging to Amherst Crane Rentals, suffered a mangled rear and lost a wheel. A stream of debris, including two broken panes of glass, a travel coffee mug and a large metal box, lay along approximately 100 metres of the road.

Throughout the evening, passersby – some, area residents drawn by the sound of sirens, others, transit customers stranded by the closed road – gathered on the sidewalk and stared in surprise at the tangled wreckage.

"I've never known a TTC bus to get in an accident," said Amy Francis, adding that the lack of traffic lights and the straight, open bridge across the valley prompts high speeds in the area. "When they get down this stretch, they really rev it up."

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Niko Miguel, who often rides the same bus, was counting his lucky stars that he had not been on board.

"This was a very devastating thing," he said. "I love the TTC – I can't believe this would happen."

While pedestrians and motorists have been killed in crashes with TTC vehicles in recent years, a spokesman for the agency could not recall a collision that killed a transit rider since the Russell Hill subway crash in August 1995, in which three people died and 30 were injured.

That incident, in which one train rear-ended another south of St. Clair West station on the Spadina line, prompted the TTC to shift focus from expansion to maintenance and safety. It is often considered one of the safest major transit systems in the world.

With a report from Carys Mills

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