Log­ging train de­rails, killing two

Logs spill onto tracks af­ter rail crash in small north Is­land com­mu­nity of Woss, trap­ping three work­ers

Times Colonist - - Front Page - KATIE DeROSA Times Colonist

Two peo­ple were killed and three peo­ple were se­ri­ously in­jured af­ter a Western For­est Prod­ucts log­ging train de­railed Thurs­day morn­ing in Woss, a hamlet be­tween Port McNeill and Camp­bell River.

The train was in a re-load yard when it sud­denly rolled down the tracks and col­lided with a track main­te­nance car where men were work­ing. The col­li­sion caused logs to spill across the rail­way tracks, trap­ping at least three work­ers un­der­neath, said Woss re­gional dis­trict di­rec­tor David Rush­ton.

“A whole load of logs came down and trapped some guys,” said Rush­ton, a re­tired log­ger.

“I know ev­ery­body in­volved, the whole com­mu­nity does. It’s a tough time for our lit­tle com­mu­nity.” He said it’s too early to iden­tify the victims.

B.C. Am­bu­lance unit chief Nat Pot­tage said by the time he ar­rived, two men had been res­cued from un­der the logs. It took about 60 log­gers, fire­fight­ers, po­lice and paramedics just un­der five hours to get the last man out from un­der the logs, he said.

Western For­est Prod­ucts crews used ex­ca­va­tors to care­fully re­move logs one by one so the pile didn’t col­lapse.

“It was a bad scene, and all things con­sid­ered, it went well,” Pot­tage said. “The RCMP would like to ac­knowl­edge the sig­nif­i­cant ef­forts by first re­spon­ders to deal with those trapped,” said RCMP spokes­woman Cpl. Tammy Dou­glas.

Paramedics were called to the area of Cougar Cres­cent just be­fore 9 a.m. Two peo­ple were air­lifted to Vic­to­ria Gen­eral Hospi­tal while one per­son was trans­ported via ground am­bu­lance.

RCMP and fire crews were on scene all day. Vic­tim ser­vices also gave as­sis­tance.

Rush­ton was ini­tially told his 21-year-old grand­son, Lu­cas, was among the crew mem­bers, but it turned out he had switched to an­other crew at the last minute Thurs­day morn­ing.

“All I know is my grand­son is home now and I never hugged him so hard,” he said. Lu­cas, who has worked for the com­pany for about two years, is now con­cerned for his friends, Rush­ton said.

The af­ter­math of the de­rail­ment was con­fined to the rail­way area, but it “came too close for com­fort to some of the homes,” Rush­ton said.

It’s un­clear what caused the log­ging train to hit the track main­te­nance car and de­rail. “The cause of the in­ci­dent re­mains un­der investigation and the area has been cor­doned off,” Dou­glas said.

The RCMP, B.C. Coroners Ser­vice, Work Safe B.C. and the Trans­porta­tion Safety Board are all in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

Western For­est Prod­ucts pres­i­dent and CEO Don De­mens said in a state­ment: “We are sad­dened to re­port an in­ci­dent with a train de­rail­ment in Woss, B.C., this morn­ing. The train was car­ry­ing Western For­est Prod­ucts’ per­son­nel and ma­te­ri­als. The safety and se­cu­rity of our staff and the com­mu­ni­ties where we work are para­mount. We are co-op­er­at­ing fully with all au­thor­i­ties and will con­tinue to do so.”

Work Safe B.C. spokes­woman Tr­ish Ch­er­necki said the agency re­ceived a call from the RCMP at 9:54 a.m. “about a se­ri­ous in­ci­dent at a work­site in Woss.” Work Safe in­ves­ti­ga­tors were dis­patched.

The train was trav­el­ling on the En­gle­wood Rail­way, a 90-kilo­me­tre log­ging line which runs from Ver­non Lake, through Woss, past Nimp­k­ish Lake Pro­vin­cial Park to Beaver Cove. It’s be­lieved to be the last op­er­at­ing log­ging rail­way in North Amer­ica.

Rush­ton, who has been re­gional di­rec­tor for 15 years, said there have been mi­nor de­rail­ments in the past “but noth­ing like this.”

CHEK NEWS

Res­cue crews work at the site of a log­ging train de­rail­ment in Woss, a small com­mu­nity be­tween Port McNeill and Camp­bell River, on Thurs­day. Logs spilled across the tracks, trap­ping at least three work­ers un­der­neath.

Logs cover rail­way tracks and come close to homes af­ter a train de­rail­ment in Woss.

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