Return to the Lounge Car


42-Year Veteran Given Six-Month Suspension

By Debbie McDougal
Staff Writer

BATHURST -- The lone crewman aboard a CN train that left the rails near her March 9, has been suspended for six months.

Wesley MacDonald, 60, said his suspension comes just months before his retirement after 42 years on the job.

``I spent my life with the company and didn't have one black mark against me, then something like this happens,'' said MacDonald.

The train was shunting cars at Brunswick Mining and Smelting Corp. Ltd.'s mine when it suddenly rolled down the tracks, without its conductor or crewmen.

While the train sped along a spur line six kilometres southwest of the city, MacDonald said he tried to climb over a hopper car and put the brakes on.

Failing in his attempt, 26 cars and two locomotives spilled off the tracks, dumping diesel fuel and lead-zinc concentrate into a nearby field.

MacDonald was taken to hospital, suffering bruises to the head.

The veteran worker said he is bitter about the experience.

MacDonald almost risked his life to prevent the derailment and will spend the next six months out of work because of it, he said.

CN has also penalized three other crew members, he said. CN has suspended the train's two crewmen for four months and its conductor for six months, added MacDonald.

CN spokesman Steve McIntosh refused to comment on the suspensions yesterday, only saying there had been a breech of operating procedures during the derailment and that the company was dealing with the matter to make sure it doesn't happen again.