September 17, 2021

Collision with train averted

Kyle Larder from Simpcw Resources Group was en route to his work site where he does pipeline integrity around 5:25 am when he noticed a semi-truck stopped in the middle of the highway about halfway alongside Moose Lake.

“I slowed down and saw a guy just standing there in the middle of the highway. So I pulled up and I said, ‘Hey everything okay here?’ And he said, ‘Well, I rolled my truck.’ And I said, ‘Well, where’s your truck?’ He said, ‘On the train tracks.’”

The man had flagged down a semi-truck driver, but his wife was stuck at the bottom of a steep 30-foot embankment below the highway.  Larder pulled over and spotted the pick-up truck and trailer on the tracks. He radioed a semi-driver who was in service to call 911 and contacted his medic colleague, Janette Harrington, who was also en route to work. Then he and the semi-truck driver helped the man’s wife who looked to be in her 70's up the hill.  About 10 minutes later, Harrington arrived and the semi-truck driver left the scene.  Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Larder, the man who’d gone off the road climbed back down the slope to check on three valuable show horses trapped in the trailer. 

Larder and Harrington were talking with the man’s wife in the parked truck on the highway when things took a turn. “I’m sitting there talking to her and all of a sudden I look towards Jasper and I see a train coming under the overpass,” he said. The man’s wife told them then that her husband was down in the trailer with three horses. Larder immediately tried to radio his track protection colleague, but he was on a different channel. The man obliged and the pair walked up the tracks, waving at the train. The engineer applied the brakes, and the train stopped just 30-40 feet from the horse trailer.

“The only reason that train stopped was that it was bone-dry empty,” Larder said.

The train engineer and another railway operator got out and helped get the horses up the embankment. The horses had cuts on their legs but were able to make it up the bank.  Shortly after, the ambulance, fire truck, and RCMP all showed up and a horse trailer was brought in to safely transport the horses.  Larder said he understood the couple that went down the embankment had driven through the night from Edmonton, and that fatigue likely played a role in the accident.