Island District RCMP investigating in case there was criminal intent or negligence
Investigators returned to the scene of the tragedy today still trying to determine what caused several train cars to break free, derail and spill massive logs, crushing several people who were working on the tracks.
The RCMP need to determine if there was any criminality.
“Primarily what we’d be looking for is evidence of an intentional criminal act,” says Insp. Dave Hall of Island District RCMP. “But we’re also alive to the possibility, in any situation like this, that there’s the presence of criminal negligence.”
Two people died at the scene, a third man passed away in hospital today, two others were seriously injured.
Among them was Roland Gaudet of Alert Bay who is described as a kind, gentle man.
He’d worked with Western Forest Products for 27 years.
He leaves behind three step children and two grandkids.
“He was really a kind, gentle, caring, person,” says his Stepdaughter Vanessa Kaspar of Alert Bay. “He loved his family and he loved being a grandfather.”
Clem Reti of Woss was also among the victims.
Today neighbours who’d known him for twenty years said he was quiet and friendly known for his love of music.
“Devastating we’re all sick to our stomachs,” says his neighbour Wendy Bratiuk.
“Community this size I mean within an hour everyone’s aware of it,” says Woss resident and Regional Director Dave Rushton. “It just affects everybody. Course everybody knows everybody.”
Many here are also recounting how the terrible minutes unfolded.
Mike Goodacre lives right across the street.
“I heard the rumble and heard it in the floor and then i went running to the window and i could just see the logs and everything still moving a bit and then seconds later you heard the crash at the far end.”
And there is recognition today that thanks to those who rushed to help, lives were saved,
“I went running down there and you could just hear the people yelling for help and luckily everything is close here in a small town and within minutes there was the fire department and lots of help.”
The 90 km Englewood train line is believed to to be the last logging train in North America.
Many here say there would normally be a piece of safety equipment called, a derail, when work is being done on the tracks. Some wonder if it was in place and locked.
“I think everybody is just in shock,” says Goodacre. “It’s just hard to believe.”
“Everybody is waiting to find out what happened because we know the result but we don’t know the cause,” says Rushton.
Western Forest Product worker’s at the local division were given the day off to mourn the loss of their colleagues as an entire community tries to come to terms with the tragedy.