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

Just Posted

Top cop calls video of Kelowna Mountie striking suspect ‘concerning’

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

Okanagan home sales increase over last month, still below 2019 numbers: OMREB

Sales, listings see increase over May’s numbers but dwindle in comparison to 2019

PPE donation reaches Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society

Ending Violence Association of BC received a $20,000 donation for personal protective equipment

Small business grants available through Okanagan initiative

Susie and Bryan Gay launched ‘This Bag Helps’ to help fellow small business owners during the pandemic

WildSafeBC: What to do when you find a fawn

Fawning season occurs from May to early July

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Pilot project approved: Penticton to allow alcohol in outdoor spaces

For almost two hours, council debated the proposed pilot project, before eventually passing it 4-2

Drugs, machete found in truck with stolen plate driven by Salmon Arm man

Chase RCMP arrest driver and have vehicle towed

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

HERGOTT: Can you get money back if COVID-19 disrupts plans?

Paul Hergott is a personal injury lawyer based in West Kelowna

Bateman program encourages people to sketch outside, connect with nature

#MyNatureSketch initiative encourages Canadians to become ‘bright-eyed three year olds’

Most Read