Driver in custody after hit-and-run spree at U of O

A 36-year-old man is in custody after a series of hit-and-run collisions around the University of Ottawa campus.

Police received the call at 3:49 p.m. for a possible impaired driver on the campus after several people on campus reported seeing the vehicle speeding dangerously through the streets.

Serena Williams was in a group that was almost struck by the vehicle.

"As they were gunning down Copernicus it actually seemed like they were going to run completely over the sidewalk and just mow us all down. We were about five to 10 people that were walking down the sidewalk at the time. But luckily they made a quick turn on Marie Curie and sped through the light and at that point, maybe a minute later, we heard sirens," she described.

Vicky Kryiaco, general manager for the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority, says the van was owned by a contract operator and had just finished dropping off students prior to the incident.

The van was taken by the suspect while the driver had stepped out of the vehicle.

The vehicle was involved in several collisions before the driver abandoned it.

Police arrested a man a short distance away.

Paramedics say that there were no injuries.

Stu Mills/CBC

Video of the incident shows the damaged van careening around corners with smoke trailing out of the vehicle.

Ayisha Patel also witnessed what happened.

"It wasn't an accident, even if he was lost there was no reason to be driving so frantic. There was a group of students crossing and he had no signs of slowing down at all," she said.

Ottawa police say the suspect will appear for a bail hearing on March 21 and the investigation is being led by Central Division criminal investigators.