‘I feel like half of me is gone,’ brother says of twin killed in train derailment

A Victoria man was one of three killed Monday when a runaway Canadian Pacific freight train derailed and plummeted more than 60 metres near Field in southeastern B.C.

Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer, 26, had just moved to Calgary from Victoria to become a railway conductor, following in his twin brother’s footsteps. He started work with Canadian Pacific in November as a trainee.

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“I’m always excited to go to work and it made him realize that maybe he should try it out, so he applied and got hired,” his brother, Jeremy Waldenberger-Bulmer, said from Calgary.

Daniel was living with his brother, Jeremy’s wife Meika and their 19-month-old daughter, Tenley, while starting his new life in Alberta.

“He was loving it and knew he would make a lifetime career out of it,” Jeremy said.

“We had big plans of living out our careers with CP Rail and retiring together to golf all over the world. …

“That was our thing to do. If we weren’t golfing together, we were watching golf.”

Monday’s tragedy never factored into the twins’ imaginings for their future.

“Daniel was my twin brother and I feel like half of me is gone now,” Jeremy said. “He was training and he loved the job so far. He was excited to have a life of railroading.”

The westbound train, carrying grain, had been parked for two hours when it began rolling on its own, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said Tuesday. Board investigators found that the derailment was not the result of anything the crew did.

The 112-car train with three locomotives had been stopped at Partridge, the last station prior to the entrance to Upper Spiral Tunnel.

Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer, conductor Dylan Paradis and engineer Andrew Dockrell, all of Calgary, had just boarded for a shift change and weren’t yet ready to leave when the train began rolling down the tracks, picked up speed and eventually derailed.

Imagining his brother’s terror and the lack of control intensified Jeremy’s grief, though knowing his brother and his colleagues weren’t to blame for the derailment brought some cold comfort.

“It does make me feel better it wasn’t anything the crew did, but at the same time, yes, it [hurts] to know it’s just a freak accident and started moving on its own,” Jeremy said.

“It’s just something that shouldn’t happen because there are so many safety measures to prevent things like this.”

Jeremy said he had the privilege to work with conductor Paradis and engineer Dockrell. “When Daniel got paired with Dylan [Paradis], he requested that Dylan remain his coach because he looked up to him and loved everything Dylan was teaching him,” he said. “My heart goes out to everyone grieving.”

The twins were born and raised in Grande Prairie, Alta., where their mother, Cari Waldenberger, still lives.

Waldenberger said in a phone interview from Grande Prairie that the only way she will get through the grief is knowing “he’s in heaven and his soul is with God.”

"I am just going to miss him so much; miss him horribly," she said, describing Daniel as wise and well-liked and “so thoughtful.”

She said she doesn’t want to be angry or blame anyone: “It was a horrible tragic accident and that’s what it was, an accident.” Three men are dead and nothing the investigation finds will bring them back, she said.

Waldenberger said Daniel remarked on how impressed he was with in-classroom and on-the-job training.

She said he lived a full life, but one that was too short.

“I absolutely adored my son,” Waldenberger said. “It’s hard to explain how much you love your children. My sorrow is really deep. I’m still in shock. You don’t imagine something like this could happen.”

Daniel worked two jobs while in Victoria to afford the high cost of living. He envisioned being able to retire in Victoria after a long career at CP.  

The twins' father, Albert Bulmer, lives in Moncton, N.B. On social media, Bulmer said: “He will be sadly missed by me his father and ‘mentor’ as he loved adventure and challenge as I do.”

Jeremy said his brother lived in Victoria for three years to experience “Island life” and loved being by the ocean. He worked for 4Refuel, a diesel-delivery company, and made several good friends.

Like all siblings, the Waldenberger-Bulmer twins fought sometimes, but they were also inseparable, Jeremy said. “Daniel lived an amazing life. He got to experience a lot of things in the short time he was with us,” he said.

“He always brightened up the room and was always able to put a smile on people’s faces. He has so many friends that are going to miss him.”

Jeremy said his daughter is calling around their house for “Unco Dano,” not knowing he’s not coming home.

Jeremy said his brother was hoping to go to the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf event in January 2020. He now imagines him golfing in heaven: “I hope he’s got a brand-new set of clubs up there and is golfing the best game of his life.”

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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