No criminal charges in Woss train derailment

There will be no criminal charges laid in connection with the train derailment that killed three and injured two in Woss last week, the RCMP said Monday.

The train was in a reload yard Thursday morning when it suddenly rolled down the tracks and collided with a track maintenance car where the five men were working. The collision caused logs to spill across the railway tracks.

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Mounties have ruled out obvious criminality or criminal negligence, so the investigation will now be led by the Transportation Safety Board and WorkSafe B.C.

Western Forest Products and the union representing forestry workers will be starting their on-scene investigation today.

Four WorkSafe B.C. officers were on site Monday and are preparing a site-safety plan to be able to conduct the next stage of the investigation, said Trish Chernecki, a spokeswoman for the agency.

Western Forest Products employees based on Woss are being given time off and many spent Monday meeting with counsellors for critical-incident debriefing.

Dozens of forestry workers had to spend hours working to pull logs off one of the trapped and injured workers. They had to do this work knowing that some of their co-workers had died and others were seriously injured.

“It was an amazing feat ... what they did, it was heroic,” said Chris Cinkant, safety coordinator for United Steelworkers Local 1-1937.

One man remains in hospital after multiple surgeries and another has been released and is recovering at home, Cinkant said.

Roland Gaudet, a 59-year-old grandfather who had been with Western Forest Products for 27 years, died at the scene. Woss Fire Chief Brad Galeazzi’s son also died at the scene.

Clement Reti was airlifted to Victoria General Hospital, but died of his injuries.

The union has said mechanical failure, not human error caused the train to lose control, but this has not been confirmed by Transportation Safety Board investigators.

There have not been any recent fatal accidents involving the Englewood Railway, a 90-kilometre logging line that runs from Vernon Lake, through Woss, past Nimpkish Lake Provincial Park to Beaver Cove.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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