Return to the Lounge Car

I want to thank Mark Smith for this text file. Mark says of this transcript:
There's nothing official here. The names of the people involved are phonetically spelled, as best I could interpret, etc. It also does not contain every word or sound, but tries to convey the main thrust of what's said.

Note: This page was modified November 23, 1997 with more of the words not on our version of the tape as well as name spelling corrections.

Westly MacDonald

The Runaway Transcript

RUNAWAY CN WORK EXTRA 9548 ON THE Nepisiguit SUB (branch line) on March 9th, 1987 captured on tape by CN. As appx 30 cars were against the engine, the train gave way and started rolling down a rather steep grade toward the town of Nepisiguit, reaching speeds of 70+ mph, with Wesley MacDonald on board. This tape is a live tape of the actual radio transmissions during the 21 minute period where the runaway is reported until outcome is known.

Main Cast of Characters:

Fairly Decent Transcript of the Tape: 0:00
Lorrie Sturgeon: This is extra train 9548 at Brunswick Mines. Is that you Alfie?

Dispatcher: Yes. Go ahead. Over.

Lorrie: Alfie, I think we may have a knee-deep situation on our hands. We've grabbed a bunch of cars back here at the mines and uh, we can't hold them, she's weighing on us there. How's # 14?

Dispatcher: 14 left Bathurst at 0818, over.

Lorie: OK, let us know when she's by "Nepi" now, will you. Have him wait up and we can give Wes a holler that she's waitin' on the main line.

Dispatcher: Yeah, Alright. Yeah, Alright. How many cars is there, over?

Lorrie: He has ahold of about 30.

Wesley (Wes): This is Wesley now. 50, she's doing 50, and I've got no control of her.

Dispatcher: You, ah, you got no control of her Wesley? Are you coupled to those cars, over?

Wesley: An awful goddamn mixup if I ever can survive it.

Dispatcher: I say, are you hooked up to those cars, over?

Lorrie: Yes he is Alfie, He's ahh, He's coupled up to them.

Dispatcher: Which end of the train is he on, over?

Lorrie: He's on the head end of it there, he's leading going out there on them, honest to god.

Dispatcher: He's leading on the way out and he can't control that train? Is that what you're saying, over?

Lorrie: That is exactly the situation, Alfie. It's a pretty bad situation really. He's doing about 45 there and he can't hold her. Maybe she'll slow down there on the hill down there later on, but I don't know.

Wes: I'm going by Brunswick Mills and she's going 55 miles an hour. 55 at Brunswick Mills. She's off.

Dispatcher: And there's no way you can put that train in emergency, apparently, Wesley, over?

Wes: There's no air on her. There's no air on her, Alfie.

Dispatcher: I see. Alright. Alright. Just stand by a minute. CN Engineman #14, Newcastle Sub Dispatcher, over.

(tones) Train #14: CN Engineman #14, over.

Dispatcher: Are you fellas by Nepisiguit, over?

Train #14: Uh. What was that again, over?

Dispatcher: Are you... Is your train by Nepisiguit, over?

Train #14: No, uh, he's just trying to get the switch there now. Just wait a minute and I'll tell you.

Train#14: This is Engineman #14 here. We're by Nepisiguit now, dispatcher.

Dispatcher: Yeah alright, the reason why I'm telling you that is the ore train has a runaway train on the Nebisiguit Sub and he can't get her stopped and he's heading for Nepisiguit at about 50 miles per hour. He's lost his air, over.

Train#14: OK, we're by there now, don't worry about us.

Dispatcher: Yeah, Alright. Hello Wesley.

(tones) 2:55
Dispatcher: CN sectionmen at Bathurst, Newcastle Sub Dispatcher, over. CN section forman Palmer Dempsey, Newcastle Sub Dispatcher, over.

Dispatcher: CN section forman Palmer Dempsey, Newcastle Sub Dispatcher, over

Wes: Hello Alfie.

Palmer Dempsey: (doubling with Wes) Go ahead, Dispatcher.

Dispatcher: Yes, Dispatcher here, over. Who is this speaking?

Wes: I'm doing 65 miles an hour, right now. 65.

Dispatcher: I think it's about time you left that thing isn't it, Wesley, if you can?

Wes: ???

Dispatcher: Yeah.

Dempsey: This is forman Dempsey, dispatcher.

Dispatcher: Foreman Dempsey. The ore train. The mini-ore train. It has a runaway train on the "Nepi" Sub. He's got about 50 cars on there... 45 or 50 cars and he's doing 50 or 60 miles an hour, headin' for Nepisiguit. You fellas better get the hell out of the way.
See if.. try to look to see if there's anybody around there that you can chase away from the track because he's got a runaway train on there, over.

Wes: 70 miles an hour. 70

Dispatcher: He's now doing 70 miles an hour so you'd better stand back.

Dispatcher: Wesley, is there no way that you can clear... get off of that train for the love of heavens, over?

Wes: I can't get off her.

Dispatcher: Well. I think you better bail off into a snowbank, if you can do it at all.

Dempsey: What mileage is he at dispatcher?

Dispatcher: What mileage are you at Wesley, over?
What is your mileage Wesley, over?

Wes: Four. Four.

Dispatcher: He's four. He's getting pretty handy Nepisiguit.

Wes: 75 mile and hour. Right now.

???????: Stay with her Wes. Stay with 'er.

Wes: Oh. Christ I don't know.

???????: (Other unidentified voices to Wes)
Hang in there, Wes. ....never make the corner there....

Dispatcher: Uh. Wesley, do you 'spose... you'd never make that... you'd never make the west or east leg of the wye, would you, over?

Wes: I don't know which would be the worst.

Dispatcher: Hello Bathurst

Wes: When I get done with this they can put me on my f****** pension.

Dispatcher: How many cars you got on there besides your engines Wesley?

Wes: 30 cars. (blowing whistle on engine in background)

Dispatcher: 30 cars.

Dispatcher: Wesley, are you alone in that engine?

Wes: (unintelligible) (blowing whistle on engine in background)

Dispatcher: Would you repeat that please, over?

Wes: Oh boy, I don't know. I got around one corner. (horn still blowing)

Dispatcher: Where you at, Palmer Dempsey?

Dempsey: .... Palmer ... (weak signal)

Dempsey: Palmer Dempsey. (weak signal)

Dispatcher: Are you on here section foreman Dempsey, over?

Dempsey: Yes. I'm on the road dispatcher, for Nepisiguit.

Wes: I'm coming down into "Nepi".

Dispatcher: He's coming down into Nepisiguit there now, over.

Wes: Coming down into "Nepi". We're doing 70.

Wes: ????........ if I survive 'er.

(bleed over) 7:30
Dispatcher: Hello Bather Station.

(Bather Station: Bathurst.

Dispatcher: Uh. Just a minute.

Wes: Better open that mainline switch at "Nepi" before I go through 'er.

Dispatcher: Palmer Dempsey, you on here, over?

Dempsey: We're coming into "Nepi". We're about 3 miles out.
(doubling with Wes)

Wes: (unintelligible)

Dispatcher: Palmer Dempsey, can you open one of those switches at Nepisiguit so that he can get out on the main line if he can make it, and whatever one you think is the best, over?

Dempsey: No, we'd never make it dispatcher. We're about two miles from there now.

Wes: Get the hell out of the way.

Dispatcher: Well. Get the hell out of the way then Palmer.
(aside: 14 is by there) Get the hell out of the way Palmer, he has'nt got time to get to the switch there Wesley, over.

Wes: She'll never make it anyway cause I'm going off there at the wye.

Dispatcher: She won't go into emergency for you will she Wes, over?

Wes: Come back?

Dispatcher: I say she won't go into emergency, eh?

Wes: No, it just keeps kicking out.

(unidentified: Stick to 'er.

Dispatcher: Bather Station.
Hello Bather Station
Hello Bather Station
Bather Station, are you on here?

(tones) (Bather Station: Bathurst.

Dispatcher: You better warn people around there that we've got a runaway train coming off the "Nepi" Sub, and I don't know how far he's gonna go, if he does get off the Sub without being derailed. And I think you'd better alert a doctor, and an ambulance.

(Bather Station: OK, I'll do that.

Dispatcher: Straight away.

Dispatcher: CN Engineman on the Extra 9571 East, Newcastle Sub Dispatcher, over.

Train 9571: We're south at Irvco, Alfie. We're hearing what's going on, we're stopped at Irvco in the yard limit.

Dispatcher: Alright. OK. Thank you. Dispatcher Moncton out.

Lorrie: Hello Alfie.

Dispatcher: Yes.

Lorrie: Yeah....Were you talking to Wes?

Dispatcher: No I haven't been talking to him now. Are you on here Wesley?

Dispatcher: Is that you Lorrie?

Lorrie: Yeah. I'm here in the van at the mines.

Dispatcher: You're in the van at the mines, I see. No. He hasn't called in.

Lorrie: Well. He's gone then. I suppose you're on the way out there.

Dispatcher: Yeah. OK Lorrie.

(bleed transmission) 11:36
Dispatcher: Hello Bather Station.

(Asst Supt) CN Dispatcher, CN Assistant Superintendent, over.

Dispatcher: Are you at Bathurst? Uh....

(Asst Supt: No. I'm in Campbellton
Can you get hold of that train somehow?

Dispatcher: No. I can't. I'm trying to get ahold of the driver and he won't answer me, now, and he's the only one on it I think. The van is still at the mines. The train broke away.

(Asst Supt) Yeah. If you can get ahold of him, tell him that not... that when he comes to a stop and hopefully with no injuries or anything... tell him not to move until we're all down there.

Dispatcher: Well Ben, he hit the switch at Nepisiguit at about 70 mile an hour, so I don't know where you're gonna find him at.

(Asst Supt: Tell him I don't want anything to move when he comes to a stop.

Dispatcher: Well... I... If he comes through that switch at Nepisiguit, Ben, I don't imagine ... er ... I imagine he's at a stop alright, in the woods somewhere.

(Asst Supt) Yeah, well hopefully not.

(bleed transmission) 12:50
Dempsey: Uh.. CN Dispatcher Moncton, over.

Dispatcher: CN Dispatcher Moncton, over.

Dempsey: Yeah, we're coming in to Wes here now, he's off the track. At ahh... Right around the shack at Nepisiguit.

Dispatcher: How bad is she off there, can you see?

Dispatcher: Hello Palmer.

Dempsey: Yes.

Dispatcher: Palmer, can you see how badly he is derailed, over?

Neil Gouton: Uh, CN Dispatcher Moncton, General Roadmaster Gouton, over.

Dispatcher: Yeah, where are you at Neil?

Gouton: I'm coming in Nepisiguit there now, it's not looking very good here.

Dispatcher: Can you see the engines?

Gouton: Yeah, they look to be on their side. I'll get back to you.........??...

(interference) Dispatcher: Uhh... Hello Bather Station. Bather Station.

(tones) (Bather Station: Bathurst.

Dispatcher: Have you called an ambulance and a doctor?

(Bather Station: I called the ambulance, and the city police.

Dispatcher: OK, get right up to Nepisiguit.

Dispatcher: Uh...Lorrie Sturgeon, you on here?

Lorrie: Go ahead dispatcher.

Dispatcher: Yeah, they're...they're derailed. She's derailed at "Nepi" there. Ahhh. Was Lorr... er... Wesley alone in the engine?

Lorrie: Wes was alone in the engine, yes.

Dispatcher: I see. What.. did he have about 30 cars on there and the 2 engines, is that right Lorrie?

Lorrie: Yeah.. I got about 30 cars on.

Dispatcher: Mm-Hmm. Alright. Neil Gouton and some boys are heading up there, see what the hell is left Lorrie, we'll get back to you, over.

Lorrie: Yeah, let us know how Wes is.

Dispatcher: Yeah.

(tones) Dispatcher: CN Roadmaster Neil Gouton, Newcastle Sub Dispatcher, over.

Dispatcher: CN Foreman Dempsey, Newcastle Sub Dispatcher, over.

(trackman: Foreman Dempsey can't... can't hear you now dispatcher. He's on the engines.

Dispatcher: He's on the engine... Do you know if they've seen the driver, over?

(trackman: We heard Wesley. He hollered for us dispatcher.

Dispatcher: He heard Wesley yelling did he?, over?

(trackman: They're on the engine now... we heard Wesley speak out there.

Dispatcher: Well thats hope anyway. Any sign of fire, over?

(trackman: No we didn't see any fire yet, but there's no telling.............?

Dispatcher: Any houses in that area, over?

(trackman: No.. we see one about a thousand feet there, down from there.

Dispatcher: Yeah, alright, OK.

(Asst Supt) Dispatcher get the ambulance at the engineman on extra 9644 east ...??... dispatcher Moncton, over.

Dispatcher: What did you say Ben Levesque?
What did you say Ben?

Dispatcher (aside) Ahh... Oh... One of the section men.

Dispatcher: Ahh... You there at Bather Station.

(Bather Station) Bathurst.

Dispatcher: Did....Would you order, or make sure they order a fire truck to go up to that scene, if they can get up there, over?

(Bather Station) OK, I'll do that.

Dispatcher: Hello Lorrie Sturgeon.

Lorrie: Go ahead, Alfie.

Dispatcher: Yeah, we got a little..Alittle bit of hope there. They were talking to Wesley, I think. They heard him..... talking, over.

Lorrie: Ahh thats good, the very best. Thank you.

Dempsey: Calling CN Dispatcher Moncton

Dispatcher: Yes. Go ahead Palmer, over.

Dempsey: We got him out with not a mark on him. He's the very best.

Dispatcher: Thank you. Yeah, just great. Thats fine. Now ahh.. Palmer, is the mainline blocked?

Dempsey: Yes. No, the mainline is not blocked. He's off the track on the east... on the leg of the wye, right where you come in to the first switch.

Dispatcher: Just as you're coming into the wye, is that correct, over?

Dempsey: Yes. The engines are about a hundred feet from the track.

Dispatcher: I see. Ahh. How many... Is there any other cars off of the track, over?

Dempsey: As far as I can see the whole train's off.

Dispatcher: Yeah. OK. Thats Fine. And Wesley's OK, eh?

Dispatcher: You say Wesley is OK, is that right, over?

Dempsey: Yeah, he's walking up the track here now.

Dispatcher: Are you on here Lorrie Sturgeon?

Lorrie: Yes I heard that, good news. Thank you, Alfie.

Dispatcher: OK. Dispatcher Moncton out.

Dispatcher: CN Engineman on ahh.. Extra 9571 East, Newcastle Sub Dispatcher, over.

Train 9571: 9571 East, over. (whistle blowing)

Dispatcher: I guess you heard all that Wade, the train is off the track, the engines are on their side but Wesley's OK. So you fellas are heading for Bathurst are you , over?

Train 9571: At Elm Tree now.

Dispatcher: Yeah. OK. Thanks. Dispatcher Moncton.

?????????: How about did that happen, Alfie?

Dispatcher: Well, that's the mini ore train coming out of Nepisiguit...........

(tones) Dispatcher: Ahh. Just a minute, Eddie.

(tones) Dispatcher: Newcastle Sub Dispatcher, over.

Gouton: CN Dispatcher, Roadmaster Gouton here. I think there's somebody that would like to speak to you.

Wes: Hello Alfie.

Dispatcher: How's she goin' there Wesley.

Wes: Still here anyway. The old fellow wasn't ready for me, I guess.

Dispatcher: No I guess not, but its so nice to talk to you, I must say.

Wes: Boy, some nice, holly lord geepers, I'me telling you.

Dispatcher: Well, you've done a wonderful job, I must say buddy. You stick with her.

Wes: Guess I'd of been long goneif I'd of jumped her.

Dispatcher: Well. She's a hell of a mess there though, Wesley, eh?

Wes: Roger yes, she's all piled up. I don't know how the hell I got out of her myself.

Dispatcher: Well.. Did you... Did she go over on her side? Did the engines go over on their side?

Wes: Yeah. Then all the cars come in up to me.

Dispatcher: Yeah, Well well well well...and you haven't got a scratch, I hope.

Wes: No No, I'm doing alright. The only thing I'm waiting for is the typewriter to get going.

Dispatcher: Yeah. that's exactly what I say. I imagine they'll give you 30 demert marks now.

Wes: Yeah. I'm just waiting for the typewriter now I guess.

Dispatcher: Oh the hell with the typewriter.

Dispatcher: (aside) No, he stayed with her. (and background chatter from dispatcher office celebrating)

Wes: If you're taping.. if you have it on tape there, I want to tape it.

Dispatcher: Yes sir, everythings on tape here Wesley. It's all in tape.

Wes: Better send up the hook.

Dispatcher: Yeah, they're gonna... They're working on it there now. Ben Levesque didn't want you to move the train once you stopped, over.

(The following is not on the tape as we have it, but is from the official transcripts...)

Wes: You don't have to worry about moving her, she'll be there.

Dispatcher: Wesley, we are awful curious to know what position you were in, what did you do when she started going over, what did you hang on to?

Wes: I got down on the floor, right down on the floor. The seat fell on top of me, the seat broke right off. Something hit me on the head but nothing, anyway it didn't hurt.

Dispatcher: Well I guess we can laugh now, but we were not laughing a few minutes ago.