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MacDonald Cleared In Wake Of Wreck

Westly MacDonald is a happy man.

After spending nine months under a cloud of doubt following a disciplinary action by the Canadian National Railway, he was cleared of fault in the train derailment near Bathurst last March by a Canadian Transport Commission decision Monday.

``I feel just great,'' he said. ``I got all the benefits, my pension, the whole works.''

The train MacDonald was engineering, two locomotives and 30 cars, derailed when the brakes apparently failed while he was attempting to hook up with another 23 cars at Brunswick Mines. Mr. MacDonald stayed on the train, blowing the whistle to warn motorists, before it went off the track at a speed of about 70 miles per hour.

SOme people hailed Mr. MacDonald a hero, while CNR maintained he did not use proper judgement, and suspended him for six months.

While Mr. MacDonald is happy his name has been cleared, he said he will never forget the incident.

``I'll never get over it, that's for sure. It'll follow me for the rest of my days.''

Steve McIntosh, CN's public affairs spokesman said the company was not prepared to comment on the situation until a copy of the Arbitration Board's ruling could be studied. He added the report will have to be studied carefully before the company decides what action, if any, will be taken.

Mr. McIntosh said he did not think the decision affected the other men who were suspended, because the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers only filed a grievance on behalf of Mr. MacDonald. He added that he would have to see the report before he could be sure.

While Mr. MacDonald was hurt by the suspension, he does not blame the company, just a few uncaring officials.

``It's a wonderful place to work,'' he said. ``it's just a few people that are running it, that's the problem. The morale of workers has gone down. It doesn't seem like you're anything anymore, just a number.''

Mr. MacDonald has been retired since November.