A 20-year-old man is charged with stunt driving after the father of three young girls was killed and their mother was critically injured when a car slammed into a temporary bus stop in downtown Ottawa.

Leo Paul Regnier, 36, and his wife were standing with a group of people at an Albert Street bus stop when the driver of a black Nissan sports car lost control of the vehicle and jumped the curb at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday.

"One second you're waiting for the bus and the next second it's like a warzone," said Barry Horeczy, who was also at the bus stop.

"It could have been any of us. There were six of us there; it could have easily been all of us."

Regnier, who worked at Transport Canada, was pronounced dead at the scene. His 35-year-old wife suffered severe head, back and internal injuries. She was rushed to hospital where she remains in critical condition.

'Dedicated family man'

A memo to employees at Transport Canada notified workers of their colleague's passing.

"It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of our colleague, Leo Paul Regnier, in a tragic accident in Ottawa on September 16, 2010," the memo stated.

"He was known for his good humour, amiable nature, strong work ethic, and excellent skills."

Regnier, who was described as a dedicated family man, worked as a program analyst in the safety and security group at Transport Canada for the past 10 years. He leaves behind three young girls and an "army of friends", the memo stated.

Car fishtailed, witnesses say

Witnesses reported seeing a black Nissan driving at what appeared to be high speeds on Bank Street moments before the crash. Roads were wet and slick at the time.

Horeczy told CTV Ottawa the driver fishtailed and lost control of his vehicle before slamming into the couple.

"His car was going back and forth and back and forth," he said.

He added the driver appeared to be in shock following the collision, and was unable to comprehend what had just happened.

"He didn't try to run away or anything. I think he was more in shock, like what have I done? What have I done? What have I done? Like what's transpired here?"

Six charges

Simon Banke, an Ottawa man, is facing six charges in connection with the crash. He is charged with:

  • Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death
  • Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm
  • Criminal negligence causing death
  • Criminal negligence causing bodily harm
  • Stunt racing
  • Young driver with blood alcohol level higher than zero

The alcohol-related offence is in accordance with a new law that came into effect in August requiring drivers 21 and younger to have zero alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

As for the stunt driving charges, Ottawa police say they have laid fewer of those offences this year compared to previous years.

Ottawa police laid 21 stunt driving charges between January and August of this year. In 2009, a total of 76 stunt driving charges were laid.

Banke is scheduled to appear in court on Saturday.

Anyone who may have witnessed the black Nissan in the area is asked to contact investigators at 613-236-1222, ext. 2481 or Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477 (TIPS).

With files from CTV Ottawa's Catherine Lathem