There is no doubt, even from talking to him, that he made a mistake, ore a series of misjudgments, that resulted in the train derailment March 9.
But, Wesley MacDonald paid his dues to CN, and CN should have replied in kind. Instead, he is out of work for six months, and has suffered a black mark on an otherwise spotless 42-year career with the government-owned railway.
Listening to the taped-conversation between the work crew, Wesley, and CN dispatcher Alfie Bureaux, one could hear the building excitement, and sense the pending doom in the voices of Bureaux and conductor Laurie Sturgeon.
There is little doubt they believed Wesley would die in the imminent wreck. How he survived is a quandary: Perhaps it is like he, himself, said: "The ol' fella wasn't ready for me yet I guess..."
Mr. MacDonald, who is more friendly with strangers than many people are with family, stayed with the runaway train while it rocked and rolled at 75 miles an hour on the Nepisiguit Sub line. He stayed with it for a couple of reasons. He says it was to warn people on the level crossings, which he did by blowing the air horns.
Perhaps, though, he stayed on because he feared the physical consequences of jumping off a train going that fast. Even at 20 miles an hour, a 59-year-old man (or a 30 year-old man) could be seriously hurt or killed.
CN, in handing down such a stiff penalty on Mr. MacDonald (who asserts he was following the same practices he had used for years), is obviously closing the barn door after the fleeing of the bovine stock.
CN could have reprimanded Mr. MacDonald by stripping him of 50 of his 60 demerit points. The man is retiring in October, and could have finished his career quietly.
Instead, he will go down kicking and fighting for six months lost wages, a decreased pension, and needless mental anguish.
That's the thanks Wesley MacDonald got from CN for riding a runaway train into the ground...and living.