Hal­i­fax-Montreal-bound VIA de­rails; seven in hospi­tal with mi­nor in­juries

Cape Breton Post - - NEWS -

SAINT-CHARLES-DE-BEL­LECHASSE, Que. (CP) — Fed­eral ac­ci­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tors picked through the de­bris Thurs­day of a Via Rail passenger train that jumped the tracks, clipped a house and plowed through a two-car garage.

A huge grey lo­co­mo­tive sat planted where two cars had been parked and which are now lit­tle more than a tan­gle of squashed scrap metal.

Snow was pushed up in front of the en­gine’s tilted nose and smashed wooden boards and roof­ing were plas­tered around the mas­sive ma­chine.

No one was in­jured in the house but El­iz­a­beth Huart, a spokes­woman for Via Rail, said late Thurs­day af­ter­noon that five pas­sen­gers and two mem­bers of the train crew had been treated in hospi­tal for mi­nor in­juries and re­leased.

“Mainly cuts and bruises,” Huart said, adding that one per­son was also treated for shock.

Rose-Anne Cameron, who lives in the house, thought she had been caught in an earth­quake.

“I was get­ting ready to make a cof­fee when ev­ery­thing started to shake in the house,” she told Ra­dioCanada, the French-lan­guage net- work of the CBC.

“I heard the mir­rors break­ing, the dishes break­ing, the elec­tric­ity went out.

“ When ev­ery­thing stopped, I opened the door and looked out­side and I saw the en­gine that had run into the garage.”

She said she avoided death or se­ri­ous in­jury be­cause her dog dal­lied when she took him out first thing in the morn­ing.

If he’d been five min­utes quicker, she would have been fol­low­ing her nor­mal morn­ing rou­tine get­ting ready in the bath­room, which was de­stroyed by the train’s pas­sage.

Many of the 120 pas­sen­gers were asleep when the Hal­i­fax-toMon­treal train sud­denly be­gan to vi­brate be­fore de­rail­ing at about 4:45 a.m. ET near the com­mu­nity of St-Charles-de-Bel­lechasse, Que.

Seven cars — five passenger cars and two lo­co­mo­tives — left the track. One en­gine top­pled onto its side, leav­ing a pool of diesel fuel. The other cars re­mained upright near the tracks al­though they leaned slightly in the heavy, swirling snow.

Passenger Ca­role Ouellet was in the first passenger car when the in­ci­dent occurred.

“There was an up­roar which lasted 30 sec­onds but it felt like 10 min­utes,” said Ouellet, who reg­u­larly takes the train be­tween Montreal and Ri­mouski.

“ When the ac­ci­dent hap­pened, there were lit­er­ally peo­ple fly­ing around in the car,” she told Que­bec City Le Soleil. “It’s a mir­a­cle that no­body was in­jured se­ri­ously.”

She said many peo­ple cried out af­ter the ac­ci­dent but emer­gency crews re­sponded quickly.

Fire­fight­ers and a crew from a com­pany spe­cial­iz­ing in clean­ing up en­vi­ron­men­tal waste cleared up the mess, which fire­fight­ers said did not pose a haz­ard to area res­i­dents.

Their work was, how­ever, slowed slightly by poor weather.

Via Rail said the train left Hal­i­fax at 12:30 p.m. on Wed­nes­day and was head­ing to Montreal. It has 10 crew mem­bers.

Buses were brought in to trans­port pas­sen­gers to Montreal and Drum­mondville. Huart said all the pas­sen­gers made their con­nec­tions, with about 20 peo­ple head­ing to Toronto and oth­ers head­ing to Ottawa, among the des­ti­na­tions.

Huart said the cause of the de­rail­ment has not been de­ter­mined.

The Cana­dian Press

A lo­co­mo­tive sits in the re­mains of a shed and a porch in the back­yard of a home in St-Charles-de-Bel­lechasse, Que., Thurs­day. The Via Rail train car­ry­ing about 120 pas­sen­gers and 10 crew de­railed early Thurs­day. Seven pas­sen­gers suf­fered mi­nor in­juries in the de­rail­ment.

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