A RCMP photo included in a WorkSafeBC report shows the scene of a fatal derailment in Woss on April 20, 2017. A faulty coupler released 11 cars down the track, striking a work crew, killing three and seriously injuring two.

Faulty coupling cited as cause of fatal B.C. logging train derailment

Safety device also failed to divert runaway rail cars that killed three crew members in 2017 crash

Eleven rail cars loaded with logs rolled unrestrained towards a crew of five workers sitting unsuspectingly in a “speeder” and a backhoe near Woss on April 20, 2017.

The line of log-loaded rail cars, the speeder and the backhoe were then pushed approximately 1.5 kilometres down the line before it all derailed in the Village of Woss that morning.

Three workers, Roland Gaudet, Jacob Galeazzi and Clement Reti were killed and two were seriously injured, a WorkSafeBC report into the incident says.

READ MORE: Third person dies from injuries sustained in logging train incident near Woss

The cause of the crash was determined to be faulty coupler components failing to engage on a car attached to a braked rail car that anchored the string of 12 cars. That coupling failed, releasing the 11 cars connected to it. In addition, a safety mechanism called a derail then failed to stop the free-rolling cars.

“The loaded cars rolled onto the line, striking the maintenance crew of five workers in the speeder and rail backhoe,” the report says. “The speeder and rail backhoe were then pushed further down the line by the uncontrolled railcars until the cars, the speeder and the rail backhoe all derailed.”

In the process of derailment, the speeder and rail backhoe were struck by logs falling from the railcars. The operator of the speeder, which is a kind of crew transport car, and one crewman called a sectionman survived with serious injuries. The backhoe operator and two other sectionmen in the speeder received fatal injuries.

READ MORE: WorksafeBC, TSB investigate fatal Woss derailment

The incident happened on Western Forest Products’ Englewood Railway at Woss. This private railway, no longer in operation, was used to transport logs on 90 kilometres of track stretching from Vernon Lake through Woss and past Nimpkish Lake to Beaver Cove on Vancouver Island.

WorkSafeBC’s jurisdiction in the case involves aspects that impact health and safety of workers. Technical Safety BC is another provincial regulatory body that enforces the Railway Safety Act and oversees railways operating exclusively within the province of B.C.

In addition, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada has jurisdiction to investigate rail accidents on federally-regulated railways. The TSB will be issuing its own report into the incident.

The incident occurred in a location on the Englewood line called a reload, approximately two kilometres south of Woss on northern Vancouver Island. The reload is higher in elevation than the village of Woss.

READ MORE: Vancouver Island loses its last logging train

“Consequently, any unrestrained or uncontrolled railcars will roll, with gravity, from the reload in the direction of Woss,” the WorkSafeBC report says.

A system of brakes, winch, spotting line and wheel blocks is used to counteract the grade in the reload which is located on a spur off the main line. The derail is another safety device that is intended to derail any runaway cars before the junction of the spur with the main line.

The WorkSafeBC investigation determined that besides the faulty coupler on the one car, the derail device was affixed to rail ties that sat on packed ground that did not permit proper drainage, resulting in the wood decay.

In addition, the derail had been attached to the ties with fewer spikes than were required. The impact of the first car’s wheels easily dislodged the derail. One of the cars was briefly derailed but the force of the cars rolling behind it pushed it back onto the rails at the junction with the mainline.

The report did not contain any recommendations.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Council’s special-interest projects boosting property taxes too high

City council should keep in mind its core services when budgeting, says letter writer

Colour and culture being painted onto plaza stairs in downtown Nanaimo

City commissions Humanity in Art muralists for ‘artistic intervention’ project

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses claim against Island Corridor Foundation

Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation was seeking return of reserve land as railway sits unused

Nanaimo’s newest skatepark now open for use in Harewood

Harewood Centennial Park amenity opens on schedule

Column: Sustainable society based on foundational services

Services tied to local populations puts sustainability above growth, says columnist

A list of charge rates or Crown referrals from police oversight bodies across Canada

Here are the rates of charges or referrals to the Crown from their most recent annual reports or online data

Man who rammed gate near Trudeau residence with truck faces multiple charges

The man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

Kelowna RCMP commander calls for more nurses during wellness checks after complaint

Southeast District Commander wants to increase Police and Crisis Team program

‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight on Vancouver Island

Polyphemus moths are one of the largest insects in B.C.

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

US officer resigns after photos, connected to death of black man in 2019, surface

Elijah McClain died, last summer, after police placed him in a chokehold

Most Read