Veteran GO bus driver continues recovery as attacker sentenced over Hamilton assault

Derrick Sealy, who has spent decades transporting thousands of GO customers, responds to conviction.

The attack sent ripples of shock across the GO Transit network as well as among passengers used to seeing Derrick Sealy’s familiar face behind the wheel.

In July, GO bus driver Sealy, who will be celebrating 40 years with GO Transit in October, was assaulted in Hamilton, Ont., while operating his bus.

Metrolinx News had previously published a story about Sealy to recognize his long years of service and the impact his friendly attitude has had on his customers.

With the help of family and friends, Sealy continues to recover from injuries sustained during the July 9, racially motivated assault.

In this image from March 2019, Derrick Sealy stands outside his bus on a sunny day, smiling at the camera.

Every day of his career, Derrick Sealy has been responsible for the safety of his passengers. During an interview earlier this year, before he was attacked, he said getting customers safely to their destination was his priority. This image was taken in March 2019. (Photo by Matt Llewellyn)

On September 6, his 24-year-old assailant, Rocco Vietri, was sentenced to 18 months in jail, representing the maximum sentence for the attack. Vietri, who court heard has a lengthy criminal record, will also be banned from all Metrolinx property for a period of three years upon his release.

In his sentencing, the judge described the attack as a hate crime and one the worst offences by one of the worst offenders.

The violent assault on Sealy took place after Vietri was asked to pay when he boarded a GO bus bound for Toronto.

“We hope the sentence sends a strong message,” said Bill Grodzinski, Metrolinx’s director of safety and security.

“Metrolinx has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to violence, whether physical or verbal, and passengers and employees have the right to feel and be safe when using our services.”

In response to the ruling, Sealy said: “The judge did as much as the law allowed him to do, and I’m grateful for that decision.”

Metrolinx’s Transit Safety Investigations Unit – in collaboration with Metrolinx’s CourtAdvocate Program – assisted Sealy through the criminal court process, which included liaising with police and the Crown’s office, attending each court appearance to monitor and report on the progress of the case, and compiling victim and community impact statements read into court at Vietri’s sentencing hearing.

Greg Duyn, manager of bus operations north for GO Transit, said: “Our transit operators work on the frontline, providing services to the public. They should never have to go through what Derrick did.

“Our hope is that the courts will continue to support our workers and impose the strongest sentence available.”

Sealy has not yet returned to his GO bus driving job, after spending the better part of his adult life quietly dedicated to making sure passengers got to where they were going safely.

Story by Paul Jones, Metrolinx communications coordinator.