Published on Wednesday January 09, 2013
COLIN MCCONNELL/TORONTO STAR Brian Magee, who is visually impaired, said he was dragged alongside a bus after his cane was trapped in the door nearly a month ago. He says he is still awaiting an apology from the TTC.
Brian Magee doesn’t expect he’ll ever know if his sore arm is the result of a bus driver’s honest mistake or of a fit of bad temper.
But the Toronto man, who is visually impaired, says the TTC’s lack of apology or follow-up to his complaint has added insult to his physical injury, nearly a month after an incident in which he was dragged alongside a bus.
Magee has glaucoma. He has some residual sight and sees the world in shadows. He carries a collapsible white and red identity stick with a wrist strap.
On Dec. 11, he went to his bus stop, on Jane St. north of Lawrence, and as he had been taught, extended the stick to let the driver know of his visual impairment.
Usually bus drivers respond by pulling up directly in front of Magee and verbally guiding him on to the bus if necessary. This time the driver went past him, and Magee says he found himself standing closer to the rear door.
When he made his way forward, he detected that someone with a stroller was disembarking. It was only later that he learned the woman had been at the same bus stop all along. She was allegedly turned off the bus by the driver, who said her stroller she was pushing was too big.
Magee extended his stick to the yellow line.
“I was just about to put a leg up to go in and the doors went ‘whoosh’ and closed right in front of me. I was stunned at that moment, and all of a sudden, he’s not just driving away, he thunders away from the stop,” said the former TV cameraman.
“It really yanked my arm and pulled me down the street, I figure 15 or 20 steps, before the stick snapped out of the door,” he said of the incident that happened about 4:20 p.m. Magee says he was only a step or two from falling alongside the bus.
It was the woman with the stroller who flagged down the next bus and called Magee aboard to report the event. “What happened then was the most humiliating,” says Magee. Bus riders started yelling at him.
The operator then took the bus out of service and waited for a supervisor, police and paramedics, who took statements from Magee and the witness.
The supervisor circled a number on the back of a transfer and told Magee to call for updates. He did, the next day. He wanted to know if the bus driver had been questioned. Instead he was given a file number and referred to the TTC’s legal department, where he left a message that went unanswered until the Star called the TTC on Monday.
A customer service agent then contacted Magee and told him someone from the legal department would also be calling. That happened Tuesday. But it didn’t help, said Magee, who was told that the legal department representative hadn’t yet begun an investigation.
“I’m just as disappointed now as I was before, more so now that I find out nothing’s been done, by the sounds of it,” said Magee.
He doesn’t understand why no one has apologized or why the case was immediately pushed to the legal department, since he says he’s not looking for financial compensation.
Any time there’s an injury, the case is sent to the legal department, said TTC spokesman Brad Ross. He had no information on whether the bus driver had been identified or questioned.
“That would be part of the legal process,” he said.
“Whenever we’re involved in any incident where a customer or a third party like a motorist or a pedestrian is injured, our legal department has to get involved and we need to bring resolution to the matter,” Ross said.
The strap from the cane left a burn mark on Magee’s wrist and he may need therapy for his arm. But the psychological damage runs deeper, he said.
For years, medication kept his glaucoma in check. But in 2011 it stopped working. Despite emergency surgery, he has not recovered his sight. It was only late last summer that he began venturing out alone with his cane.
“I’m still adapting to this lifestyle to a certain extent. Up to now I’ve had the confidence to go on the bus. Now if I go out — and the next day I had to go to my doctor — I really was, I was scared,” he said.