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Three Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. crew members died early Monday when their train derailed on a treacherously steep stretch of track in the Rockies and the locomotive plummeted into the Kicking Horse River.
The crash happened east of Field, B.C., a small community nestled in the mountains of Yoho National Park, roughly 200 kilometres from Calgary. A row of smashed, twisted rail cars lay sideways beside the Trans-Canada Highway as darkness fell Monday, grain spilling out onto the snow as workers in bright orange picked their way through the rubble.
The Calgary-based crew members died when the westbound freight train jumped the tracks at about 1 a.m. MT, a spokesperson for the railway said, in between two loops of track known as the Spiral Tunnels. Christopher Monette, a spokesperson for Teamsters Canada — which represents CP workers — said the train fell around 60 metres.
The crew included conductor Dylan Paradis, trainee Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer and engineer Andrew Dockrell, according to a message posted to an internal site for Canadian Pacific Railway staff and later confirmed in a statement from the company.
According to the internal message, Paradis and Dockrell were both long-term employees, having been with the rail company since 2007 and 1985 respectively, while Waldenberger-Bulmer had only joined last year.
As the sun set Monday, casting a golden glow on the peaks surrounding the crash site, workers donning headlamps walked into the brush. A backhoe moved disfigured chunks of metal into a pile as recovery crews with snowmobiles and a dinghy pulled up in a small turnoff from the highway.
Between 30 and 40 grain cars are off the tracks, according to British Columbia’s Environment Ministry. There is no immediate word of fuel or other contaminants entering the Kicking Horse River, said ministry spokesperson David Karn.
Between 30 and 40 grain cars went off the tracks, some of which fell up to 60 metres, with the locomotive ending up in the Kicking Horse River. (JEFF MCINTOSH/THE CANADIAN PRESS)A spokesperson for Canadian Pacific, Salem Woodrow, said there will be a full investigation to determine what caused the derailment.
The stretch of rail through the Kicking Horse Pass has long been a major transportation corridor through the Rockies — but it is a challenging one. Starting in the late 1800s, trains were forced to navigate a steep grade known as the “big hill” when descending the west side of the pass, prompting the railway to build the Spiral Tunnels to ease the descent into the valley.
Last month, 15 cars derailed in the upper Spiral Tunnel; the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) is still investigating the crash.
This article first appeared on www.thestar.com
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