Family of man killed in Manitoba train derailment seeks answers
Published Saturday, October 27, 2018 10:59PM EDT
The family of a man killed in a Manitoba train derailment is left with questions about the circumstances around their son’s death – including how long it took emergency officials to respond to the crash.
Transportation Safety Board of Canada says the accident occurred near Ponton, Man. on Sept. 15 when the train hit a washout on the Hudson Bay Railway, sending it off the track. Conductor Kevin Anderson, 38, and his colleague, a 59-year-old engineer, were on board at the time.
The crash was reported to RCMP around 5:45 p.m., with officers arriving on scene around 7 p.m.
The officers then spent about five hours with the trapped men until emergency responders arrived on the scene just before midnight. Those first responders came with a rail truck and equipment that allowed rescue operations to begin.
Police say responders ensured the area was safe as the train was carrying liquid petroleum gas.
Anderson died around 1 a.m., according to RCMP.
What happened in the hours between the afternoon derailment and Anderson’s early-morning death has caused much confusion for the family, who have carried out their own research in hopes of finding answers.
“The more we found out, the worse it got,” Anderson’s mother, Debbie Leeper, told CTV News.
The family spoke with several witnesses who responded to the scene, including a prospector who first heard the crash, a helicopter pilot who responded to the site and a coroner.
The prospector told Anderson’s mother that he came across the crash around 3:30 p.m. and helped get the helicopter pilot to the site. They then called 911.
Leeper says the pilot, prospector, and two other civilians were on the scene before police arrived and comforted Anderson and the engineer as they waited for help to arrive.
Witnesses told the family that Anderson suffered a broken hip and his legs were pinned. Leeper says that, according to the helicopter pilot, Anderson wasn’t in any obvious distress as they spoke.
Leeper says her son used the prospector’s phone to try and contact them as he lay pinned in the wreck, but they missed the call.
The family says a coroner determined that Anderson eventually died from internal bleeding.
Leeper says she still doesn’t understand why her son died nearly nine hours after the crash.
“Why would you think help wasn’t coming?” she said.
Union calls for inquest
Arctic Gateway Group, which owns the railway, says that it had an emergency measures plan that was followed, and RCMP and Thompson Fire were in control of the crash site.
The Transportation Safety Board said its investigation into the accident is ongoing.
The rail workers union has asked Manitoba’s chief medical examiner to conduct a coroner’s inquest, but has not received any official response other than acknowledgement that the request was received.
“We’ve got a lot of questions and not a lot of answers,” Roland Hackl, Vice President of Teamsters Canada Rail Conference said.
“Why was it okay for two RCMP officers and four civilians to be on scene, but paramedics and firefighters were not allowed in?”
As they’re left waiting for answers, Anderson’s family has made it their mission to try and ensure that no other family has to go through a needless loss like they have.
“There has to be some things changed, because we won’t be ok unless we know the rail is safe and my son didn’t die for nothing,” Leeper said. “We want his life to matter. “
With a report from CTV Winnipeg’s Beth Macdonell