Mayday (2013) s03e10 Episode Script

Head-on Collision

An enormous freight train is out of control, tearing through the Canadian Rockies.
The crew does nothing to slow the train's terrifying speed.
Jack, are you there? Charging the other way, a passenger train with more than 100 people on board.
Front end.
Jack, come in.
Oh, my God! Mayday! Mayday! We're doing 90 miles an hour! Out of control! SCREAMING Take a life jacket! Where's the coastguard? Don't let go! It's one of the most spectacular train rides in the world.
Every year, thousands of people take the slow and easy way through Canada's Rocky Mountains.
Avoiding traffic, they take the train, and leave the driving to somebody else.
In late winter, 1986, a gentle trip through the Rockies will end tragically.
It was like a mini atom bomb.
And all of a sudden, it ignited.
Whoof! We're gonna help you.
I can hear the woman screaming, you know .
.
to save her baby.
An investigation makes shocking discoveries about the Canadian railroad industry.
At that time I didn't think that anything was wrong.
February 8, 1986.
Spectacular northern lights dance across the sky over Edson, Alberta, in western Canada.
COUNTRY MUSIC PLAYS ON RADIO Driving freight trains has been a lifelong dream for 48-year-old Canadian National Railways engineer Jack Hudson.
But after 16 years on the job, he knows all too well that it can be a gruelling career.
Because Canadian freight trains travel such vast distances, up to 12 local crews may be used in the course of one cross-country journey.
Hudson works a mountainous stretch of track through Alberta, running between his home town of Jasper, and Edson to the east.
Like many trainmen, Hudson works a regular beat, driving over the same stretch of track, then turning around again with another train, day after day.
At around 11pm last night, Hudson got off the freight train from Jasper and spent the night here, in the company bunkhouse at Edson.
Now he's up again, after just 3.
5 hours of sleep, ready to return to Jasper.
At the station, he's joined by his brake man.
Like Hudson, 25-year-old Mark Edwards lives in Jasper, and, like Hudson, he hasn't slept very much.
(Sniffles) Did you get some rest? Not much.
Got a touch of the flu.
Could use a full night's sleep.
Hudson and Edwards will ride up front, in the first engine.
Hudson drives the train, while Edwards keeps an eye on the brakes, and pitches in if Hudson needs any help.
Known to his fellow railmen as Smitty, 33-year-old Wayne Smith is Hudson's conductor.
He's the last of the three-man crew in charge of the freight train this morning.
Smitty.
Smith rides in the caboose, the last car in the train.
He acts as an extra set of eyes, making sure the men in the front end know what's going on behind them.
The three men are long-time employees of Canadian National, or CN, Rail.
And all of them have been up and down this length of track countless times before.
The train they're riding today is enormous.
CN Train 413 is just under 2km long.
The cars are filled with a collection of grain, metal pipes and chemicals.
It tips the scales at more than 11 million kilos.
As the freighter rolls into Edson, it slows to a crawl, but doesn't stop.
Getting it started again would take time, and the crew wants their trip to begin as soon as possible.
Hudson and Edwards take the train on the fly, boarding it as it rolls slowly along.
According to CN Rail's code of conduct, this is illegal, but it's something crews do routinely.
With the caboose still nearly 2km away, Smith stands by the track to inspect the cargo as it crawls by.
He makes sure there is nothing obviously wrong with the freight or the cars carrying it.
All set, Jack? Clear signal leaving Edson.
Clear signal leaving Edson.
Another part of Smith's job is to stay in touch with the front end of the train.
He's supposed to make sure they're alert throughout the journey.
Now, with the caboose pulling alongside the platform, Smith climbs aboard.
OK, he's got the brakes off.
You're good to go.
See you later.
At 6:40am, Hudson pushes the throttle.
The freight train picks up speed as its 8,000 horsepower diesel engines open up.
The CN freight train begins the long haul west to Jasper.
The men are going home.
MAN ON RADIO: Dispatcher to 413.
Good morning, dispatcher.
Good morning, Jack.
But Hudson isn't sure exactly how long his train is, or precisely what he's carrying.
I'll get a measure at Medicine Lodge here.
I haven't had a chance yet.
Oh, that's, uhyou got pretty well all grain cars, eh? - Yeah, I think so.
- Yeah.
It should be the right weight, then.
OK.
OK, thanks.
As 413 roars west, a Via passenger train speeds east on the same track.
Via Rail's Super Continental passenger train number 4 is cruising toward Edmonton, Alberta.
More than 100 passengers are enjoying the spectacular scenery as it cruises through the rugged Canadian Rockies.
36-year-old Jamie Heyd is a car assembly operator.
He's headed home to Ontario after a two-week visit to his family in Vancouver.
It's a very, very small community.
That .
.
you're in close proximity with a lot of people very, very suddenly.
And so there's a lot of people we got to meet and got to interact with.
I remember there was a couple of ladies that we met over dinner.
One was very, very pregnant.
While some passengers are still sleeping, Heyd goes into the day coach to do some reading before breakfast.
It's the fourth car in the train.
I remember this lady, and she had a little boy with her, about three years old or whatever.
He was quite in awe.
The little child was quite in awe of the scenery.
So I sat down in there, and I lifted the shade a little bit so I could get some of the daylight coming in and I started to read a pocket novel.
Several cars behind Heyd is 61-year-old assistant conductor Herbert Timpe.
An old hand on the Canadian passenger line, he's been riding this piece of track for seven years.
I had to be the assistant conductor and look after the passengers on that train.
Next stop Hinton.
The passenger train is pulling in to Hinton.
The freight train is just about to reach Hargwen station, 20km east.
Here the rail line briefly splits into two, so trains can pass each other.
413 will take the upper track, while the passenger train passes below it.
As Hudson approaches the split in the tracks, traffic signal lights tell him to slow down.
Smitty.
We've got an approach limited signal at Hargwen.
Next station Dalehurst.
Over.
At end of 413, approach limited at Hargwen.
Next station Dalehurst.
Out.
These are the last words these men will ever exchange.
The dispatcher in Edmonton sets a switch, and 413 is forced onto the upper track.
The Via passenger train arrives at Hinton station at 8:20am.
On board, 64-year-old Martin Pederson settles down to breakfast in the downstairs lounge of the dome car.
He's feeling rested after a good night's sleep.
A former World War II fighter pilot, Pederson has a lot of experience with locomotives.
Over the course of the war, he blew up 36 enemy trains in France.
The night before, Pederson swapped war stories with another veteran he met on board.
61-year-old Kenneth Cuttle is a former Royal Marine.
It was February.
I was going to Edmonton to look for another job.
Like Pederson, Cuttle also fought behind enemy lines in World War II.
Morning, Martin.
Cuttle and Pederson are survivors.
Let's go upstairs to the dome car, have a look around.
See what's happening.
The train was pretty comfortable, you know, not many people on board.
I said, "let's go up to the dome car," because it was just coming light and we'd see lots of things which you might not get another chance to see.
We were in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
There are now 115 people on board.
But the train will never make it to Edmonton, and the passengers and crew enjoying the early morning trip will soon be fighting for their lives.
It's a clear, sunny morning on board a passenger train in western Canada.
Breakfast is being served as the train rolls east through the Canadian Rockies.
Just 15km away, an 11-million-kilo freight train, CN 413, rumbles down the track towards it.
With diesel engines still pounding at full throttle, it's pulling 113 rail cars of grain and hazardous material.
From the outside, everything looks normal.
But what's going on inside the lead engine of 413 is about to become one of the greatest mysteries in Canadian railroad history.
Freight trains and passenger trains often travel on the same track.
For short sections, the track splits, so trains heading in opposite directions can pass safely.
Today, 413 is on the upper branch.
Signals tell the freight train to slow, then stop completely.
The signals will only turn green again once the passenger train has passed safely by below.
Then the freight train can rejoin the main line.
But 413 isn't slowing down.
It's now heading downhill, and it charges through the warning lights.
If it doesn't stop soon, it will return to the main line at full speed, straight into the path of the passenger train.
Unaware of the bizarre behaviour of 413, the passenger train continues east.
Martin Pederson gets his breakfast.
Hi.
Up ahead, the freighter thunders through the last set of light signals, ignoring three red lights that command it to stop.
It slams back onto the main line.
It's travelling 95km/h and weighs more than 11 million kilos.
And still it doesn't slow down.
Herbert Timpe sits to relax.
Ken Cuttle has a clear view of the railway ahead.
I got in conversation with an English guy, and he had his back to the front and I was looking over his shoulder, forward, the way the train was going.
There was a flickering light in the distance.
And, not knowing the track layout, I thought, "Oh, there must be another line, "and if it's another train, it's going to go past us," you know? Just as I was reading the pocket novel, one of the girls from the party group happened to just walk past me.
Oh, my God! Oh, my God! And thenboom.
The trains collide like two charging rams at a combined speed of nearly 200km/h.
Passengers are rocked by one collision after another, as 70 freight cars pile into the wreckage.
Like an incoming wave, grain cars, long pipes three foot in diameter, 30 feet in length, you name it.
And these were flying through the air, like toys.
Thrown from the tracks by the force of the collision, one freight car flies through the air, smashing to a stop on the Via train.
The whole world seemed just to explode.
It was like a mini atom bomb.
It was a big mushroom of black smoke.
Then .
.
everything was dark.
I could no longer breathe, because everything was filled with smoke.
"Oh, I'm gonna die.
" And the third thing that happened was I just resigned myself to that.
I've been working about 37 years on the railroad and I never, never seen anything so bad.
The wave of metal, the grain cars, stopped just where the dome car was.
If it had gone another 30 feet, it would've covered us as well.
In the same car, one deck below, Martin Pederson struggles to escape.
But he can barely see what's happening in front of him.
The window beside him shattered during impact, filling his eyes with broken glass.
Almost 2km behind the engine, the caboose of train 413 finally lurches to a stop.
Conductor Wayne Smith sees a ball of fire glowing in the distance but he has no idea how bad the situation is.
Front end 413! I think we're in the bush or we're derailed.
There is a big explosion up here and we have chemicals on the train.
So stay away from it.
Stay away from the dangerous goods! But all Smith gets in reply is an ominous silence.
Passengers continue to struggle to escape the mangled wreck of their train as the smoke thickens.
I was trained while in the Royal Marines to survive and to act spontaneously.
There was a window at the back of the dome car and it was all cracked, and I just jumped up on the seat, smashed my head through the glass roof .
.
and shouted, "Come on! Let's get out!" Cuttle and others jumped from the car.
I looked back, and all of a sudden it ignited.
Whoof! Down below, in the lounge car, Martin Pederson also manages to escape.
But others aren't so lucky.
Many are still trapped in the burning cars, including passenger Jamie Heyd.
The roof of the coach had been crunched down.
And I'd lost my glasses.
I couldn't see.
I couldn't breathe.
And here was the porter that had been behind the snack bar, had opened up this exit way, and he had vamoosed out through it.
And I took off out behind it too.
Snap out of it! He was in shock.
Hey! Snap out of it! "Hey, buddy.
Pull it together here, you know? "There's people in here.
We've got to do something about it.
" But Half-blind without his glasses, Heyd goes back inside, trying to help others out of the wreck.
413 here, dispatcher! Back in the caboose, Smith is talking to the freight train's dispatcher, some 285km away in Edmonton.
.
.
smoke and everything in the air! We'd better get a doctor out here Herb Timpe, the assistant conductor on the passenger train, can hear the conversation on his radio, and breaks in.
There's cars, passenger coaches all over the ditch! And get an ambulance! And there's a whole bunch of cars on fire! You get that, dispatcher? We need the fire department here very badly.
Some coaches are trapped with passengers inside.
They're burning.
I don't think the engineers lived through this one.
It's a real mess.
MAN: OK.
That's right on the switch at Dalehurst, eh? Yes.
I'm gonna walk up there and see if I can be of any assistance.
What was the signal at Dalehurst when your head end called it? Pardon me? What was that signal on that signal at Dalehurst? Wellwell, I was calling him for the signal at Dalehurst quite a few times, but, uh .
.
I kept calling him and there was no answer.
Well, it should've been red on the panel.
Well, he must've ran it, then, dispatcher, because I could not get a hold of him.
I tried and I tried.
OK.
Alright.
Back at the head of the passenger train, Jamie Heyd tries to save who he can.
Are you OK? I'm gonna help you.
Heyd can hear the screams of men and women trapped in the flames.
I can hear the woman .
.
that I had dinner with the night before, screaming, you know .
.
to save her baby.
Heyd was not able to save the mother and her child.
They're out of reach, under debris.
That was, uhthat was difficult.
CUTTLE: People who were trapped and couldn't get out, screaming, screaming like you've never heard.
One guy knew that his wife was trapped, and he went back in and died with her.
Another woman, in the carriage under where we were, had most of her leg cut off.
James Heyd courageously decides to go back inside.
The fire is a scorching 660 degrees but Heyd tries to save one more life.
There was a child right in front of me there.
And it was the child I had dinner with the night before.
And all of a sudden the flames came and consumed him.
He just sat up and rubbed his head, and 'Cause there's nothing more we could do for him.
Anybody in front of me in that coach was dead.
For whatever the reasons, it wasn't my time to go then.
For whatever the reasons.
Wayne Smith is devastated.
He can't reach his two friends at the front of the freight train and he can't understand what happened to cause such an enormous disaster.
In western Canada, a freight train has smashed head-on into a passenger train carrying more than 100 people.
In the minutes after the collision, survivors are dragging themselves from the burning wreckage, while others are still trapped inside.
One of the girls that had been in the car in the morning, and I looked at her and I said, "I'm sorry to tell you, your" He had no choice but to tell her what happened to her friend in the train.
"Your, uh "Your friend was in the car here.
" She died, trapped in the burning debris.
I felt like the worst person in the world.
'Cause I had to tell her.
If I could've taken back that one second in time, and not tell her, you know Royal Canadian Mounted Police constable Mark Linnell is one of the first to arrive on the scene.
I was told there was a train derailment, not a train CRASH.
I mean, there's a double whammy.
The RCMP officer came.
He could hardly speak.
His mouth dropped open and he said, "I can't believe what I'm witnessing.
" It's a horrifying scene.
Pictures taken shortly after the crash show utter devastation.
I mean, I was just flabbergasted.
I just couldn't believe it.
In aninstant.
That's quite the thing to see.
The collision is 18km from the town of Hinton.
It takes emergency crews some 45 minutes to get there.
I was in the Marines in England for 14 years and I'd seen a lot ofdisasters.
Man-made disasters.
Terrorist bombs.
And I thought I'd seen it all.
There was a lot of blunt force trauma.
Of course, flying glass, burns And then I saw what appeared to be two bodies in the restaurant car, hugging each other.
We found out later that was a man and wife.
And this was one heck of a shock.
As Linnell is escorting survivors away from the site, he sees a lone man with a radio coming down the track.
How is the, uh how is the front end doing? What's your name? Smith is about to learn that his colleagues aboard his train are dead.
What happened? Like, did they make contact with the? We're still under an investigation and there's not a lot I can tell you right now.
OK, so they still might be I mean I'm really sorry.
Distraught and shaken and his train is wrecked.
And all these people dead.
The Hinton train disaster is the worst railway accident to strike Canada in 35 years.
More than $30 million in property are destroyed, 23 people are dead and 71 others are severely injured.
Wayne Smith is the only surviving crew member of the CN train - the only man who may be able to explain how an 11-million-kilo freighter ploughed headfirst into an oncoming passenger train.
What he knows could be critical to unravelling the cause of the disaster.
Two days after the collision, the Alberta Government establishes an official Commission of Inquiry, and the Honorable Mr Justice Rene P.
Foisy leads the investigation.
Judge Foisy is a Justice of the Alberta Court of Appeal.
It was reasonably simple.
I mean, what caused the accident? But it turned out to be a lot more complicated than that, because there were no easy answers as to what caused the accident.
Freight and passenger trains routinely used the same tracks without incident.
What was different this time? Over the next 11 months, Foisy calls on 150 witnesses and specialists to help him find out.
I think what has most surprised me is the complex procedures, the equipment, the overall complexity that we have to look at in running a railroad and what goes on in running a railroad.
While conductor Smith recovers from the accident, Foisy gets to work.
He begins by studying the signals that should've told the freight train to stop.
If they weren't working, the crew on 413 may not have thought they needed to slow down.
GN did a very in-depth test on the signal system.
And it was determined that, um .
.
it was performing properly.
We went further.
We hired our own independent experts to test the system.
The switches which operate the signal lights were frozen in position after the accident.
Electrical engineer Eugene Kowch was hired to read them.
Perhaps a mechanical fault in the system had turned them green, telling the freight train to speed through.
A fault does not give a positive green light to any situation.
So, if there was a fault in any controls part of the system, it would've forced everything to go to red, which meant the passenger train would've stopped, and would've forced the freight train to stop.
If a mechanical problem wasn't the cause, there was a more chilling possibility.
Perhaps someone set the freight train lights to green on purpose, causing the two trains to collide.
Kowch dismissed that idea too.
To do that would mean that somebody would have to actually go there and really maliciously, you know, change things.
And there was no sign of any tampering on any mechanisms.
Basically, our conclusion, we felt that the system was sound and was safe.
Foisy believes the lights were red but the freight train ignored them.
Perhaps another mechanical fault was behind the crash.
Well, I was calling him for the signal at Dalehurst In his statement after the crash, conductor Wayne Smith told Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers that something was wrong with his radio that morning.
.
.
because I could not get a hold of him.
I tried and I tried.
Maybe the front of the train was having mechanical problems, but they weren't able to get in contact with Smith.
Joseph Hebert examines the portable radios the crew used.
The first test was with the radio that was on the train that was in the accident at Hinton.
The radio performed to specifications.
But even if the radios themselves were working, there could be another problem.
Many CN employees claim there are places along the tracks where radio communication is impossible - so-called dead spots.
And it's not a dead spot that's there 365 days out of the year.
The possibility was also examined, and dismissed.
Sometimes you can't.
Some radios are stronger.
Some are weaker.
The second test done, as far as communications between the locomotive and the caboose, was done with the same type of radio as was used at the time the accident took place.
Field tests with that type of radio had satisfactory performance.
The evidence was pretty clear, and we concluded that there were no dead spots.
One other possible explanation is examined.
Natural phenomena, like the northern lights, can also affect radio performance.
Um, I'll get a measure at Medicine Lodge.
Northern lights couldn't build up very high currents in communications lines.
Anything even hooked up to a radio could pick it up.
My determination of it was that they were not a factor.
If the signals were red and the radios were working, why had the train crashed? Foisy examines an ingenious piece of technology, the Hot Box Detector.
Sitting beside the track, Hot Boxes monitor the temperature of a train's wheels and axles.
They also record the speed of trains as they roar by.
When Foisy and his advisors examined the Hot Box data, they make a telling discovery.
When the front of the freight train passed the Hot Box Detector just after Hargwen, it was travelling a little over 60km/h.
But by the time the caboose passed it, the train was going more than 74km/h.
Despite the signals telling it to slow down, the train was speeding up.
For the last five miles, we were able to determine that the freight train was going at least 59 miles an hour, perhaps as high as 60 or 61.
There were no brake applications before the crash as well.
The crew let the train travel too fast.
They did not heed signals to stop, and they never applied the brakes.
It all points to a train that was out of control.
Why there were no brake applications is difficult to understand.
Oh, my God! With mechanical problems ruled out, Foisy begins to examine the crew of the freight train.
Perhaps there is something about engineer Jack Hudson, who was in charge of the train, that could explain what happened that day.
As Foisy begins sifting through Hudson's medical records, and interviewing his family he makes a disturbing discovery.
A train collision in western Canada has killed 23 people.
Another 71 are injured.
The man leading the inquiry into the disaster has ruled out mechanical problems.
Judge Rene Foisy now takes a closer look at Jack Hudson, the 16-year veteran who was driving the freight train.
When Foisy and the Commission review Hudson's medical files, they're shocked by what they discover.
Mr Hudson was a man who was sick.
He was an alcoholic.
He had high blood pressure, which was problematic.
He had diabetes.
He had a pancreatic attack the summer before this accident.
He had to wear a colostomy for a number of months.
Foisy wonders if this long list of illnesses could somehow have led to the train crash.
The engineer Jack Hudson had been killed outright in the crash, and had severe injuries.
So we couldn't determine whether there had been a catastrophic medical event, whether he'd had a heart attack, for example, or a stroke, which had incapacitated him.
But we were able to do toxicology, and there was no alcohol or drugs present.
He did have a lot of health problems, and he had some problems at home.
Uhthat These problems at home appeared to be on the mend and he was not the kind of man who, if he was going to commit suicide, would take 23 people with him and injure another 70, some of them very, very seriously.
So we discounted that possibility, of a suicide.
If it wasn't suicide, if Hudson did have a stroke or heart attack at the controls, why didn't his brake man, Mark Edwards, take any action? Investigators come up with one plausible answer.
Did you get some rest? Not much.
Got a touch of the flu.
Could use a full night's sleep.
Perhaps Edwards had been asleep on the job.
Dr Alison Smiley is an expert on sleep and fatigue.
Jack Hudson, he had had at the very most, before he went on duty that day, 3.
5 hours of sleep.
And that is if he slept from the last moment somebody saw him till the moment somebody next saw him again.
3.
5 hours.
Brake man, he had a touch of the flu, and he'd had five hours sleep the night before.
Wayne Smith, similarly, had had insufficient sleep, about five hours, before the collision.
As the freight train passed the signals telling it to stop, the entire crew may have been fast asleep.
You could work at any time of the day.
So, one day you might start at four o'clock in the morning, the next day you start at 2:00 in the afternoon.
Their hours were so erratic, they were continually in a jet lag state because their physiology was never sort of fully adjusted to any particular working hours.
When it comes to staying alert, train engineers face many challenges, including long rides up and down the same stretch of track.
The tracks, going by, oneafterthe other.
It's a very soporific situation to work in and easy to see how somebody, no matter how motivated, could fall asleep.
At the time, trains were equipped with safety devices that would automatically stop a train if the engine man died or fell asleep - the so-called dead man's pedal.
Basically, the engineer is supposed to keep his foot on the pedal.
And while his foot is on the pedal, the train won't stop.
If that pedal isn't depressed, then it will, after a number of seconds, give a warning, which is quite audible.
And if nothing happens then, it will stop the train.
But Foisy discovers that for many trainmen, disabling the dead man's pedal is standard practice.
One of the excuses that was given by the engineers is that, to go long distances, having to keep your foot on that pedal was very uncomfortable.
So that they would sometimes put something on the pedal, a lunch box or something heavy enough to keep it depressed, so that they could stretch their legs.
Unfortunately, what was happening, this pedal was being depressed for long, long periods of time.
But even if Edwards and Hudson had fallen asleep at the front of the train, and the dead man's pedal was rigged, conductor Wayne Smith at the back could still have prevented the disaster.
Almost two months into the Foisy Inquiry, Smith takes the stand.
Doctors had kept him from testifying earlier, saying he was too traumatised by the accident.
Now, for the first time, investigators will hear Smith reconstruct events on board his train in the moments leading up to the disaster.
I was sitting, looking out the back of the train from my desk, when we passed Mileboard 169.
That's the, uh .
.
that's the landmark that I use to initiate a call to the engineer to ask for the display at the Dalehurst approach signal.
Head end of 413, what indication do you have at the Dalehurst approach signal 1703? Over.
The front end of the train is supposed to respond, letting Smith know that they've seen the signal lights telling them to slow down.
Head of 413, can you hear me? Over.
I probably called them three or four times.
I, uhI didn't get a response on my grey radio.
There was, uh there was something wrong with it.
What's the indication at signal 1703? Over.
It's a surprising piece of testimony.
Foisy already knows the radios were working fine.
When Smith is asked how fast he thought the train was going before the collision, Foisy gets another surprise.
(Clears throat) I felt the front end give a light brake application on the caboose.
Coming round the curve, I felt we were doing a track speed of about 50 miles an hour or less.
But, according to the Hot Box Detectors, the train was travelling almost 16km/h over track speed and there was never any application of the brakes.
I went to my red radio, and I tried to get a hold of him on it.
Jack, how's the Dalehurst approach signal 1703? I was calling him on channel one, three or four times, and there was no answer, so .
.
I tried to get a hold of him on different channels.
But, once again, Smith's testimony doesn't add up.
Foisy has heard from other trainmen who were monitoring their radios in the area that day.
No-one heard Smith call.
Smith says he was still trying to contact Hudson when the end of the train raced past signals telling it to slow down.
Jack! As an experienced trainman, Smith knows that the next set of lights will likely be a triple red, telling the train to stop.
He was getting no answer and the train wasn't slowing down.
An emergency brake cord was in easy reach, but Smith never pulled it.
Jack, are you there? With Hudson mysteriously silent, Smith says he does nothing but continue to call the front end.
Front end! Jack, come in.
Why, in the circumstances that you've described, did you not pull the brake? I-I felt that the engineer had the train under control.
I felt he, in fact, was doing what was necessary to control the train at that point.
I never felt at any point in time that I should pull the emergency brake.
At that time I didn't think that anything was wrong.
That's the point I'm making, Mr Smith.
That when there's a problem with the radio, you've been trained, over the years, to observe the signals.
Andit would've been the last thing I would've done.
He didn't pull the brake, he didn't pull the air, because he felt that it hadn't reached that point.
Basically that was his evidence.
And I had a lot of difficulty with that, because .
.
if it, uh .
.
if that point hadn't been reached, when was it going to be reached, if ever? Smith's contradictory testimony is complete.
Judge Foisy is now ready to close his case, and lay the blame on those responsible for the disaster.
The inquiry into one of the deadliest train crashes in Canada is complete.
23 people were killed when a freight train crashed head-on into a passenger train near Hinton, Alberta.
Chief investigator Rene Foisy has explored every angle, from technical malfunction to human error.
He's now ready to deliver his report on what went wrong that day.
In his 205-page report, Foisy parcels out the blame, naming all the key offenders.
Foisy writes that the train's engineer, Jack Hudson, failed to observe and obey light signals commanding him to stop his train before it entered the single track.
If Hudson was unable to do his job, brake man Mark Edwards failed to intervene.
He also ignored the light signals and didn't brake the train before it entered the single track.
Conductor Wayne Smith was guilty too.
He had failed to follow operating rules and pull the emergency brake when he couldn't contact the two men at the front of the train.
In a statement to police, he had even suggested that he thought they were sleeping.
.
.
said that my head end was asleep.
Do you recall making that response, sir? Yes, I do.
With so many contradictions in his testimony, Foisy rules that the conductor's evidence is unreliable.
I wasn't sure what I what had happened.
And, uh .
.
I went to my back desk, I jumped on from the cupola, and, uh, ran for It seemed like we were just keeping going.
There was no immediate stopping.
We just kept sliding.
Instead, Foisy emphasises that Smith, like Edwards and Hudson, was dangerously tired that morning.
I just wanted to get home, actually, at the time.
But the crew aren't the only ones Foisy blames for the accident.
According to the Foisy Report, Jack Hudson may well have had a stroke or heart attack before the collision.
But CN management had known about Hudson's medical record for years.
He managed to accumulate I think it was 40 or 50 demerits.
And at 60, you're fired.
But, after he got to that level, there were some other infractions which weren't recorded.
Foisy also calls attention to the rules that were routinely ignored, such as rigging the dead man's pedal and taking the train on the fly.
The conclusion we came to was that there was a lot to be desired on the part of CN.
And that, yes, there was certainly some laxness and some complacency when it came to these areas.
Um, I'll get a measure at Medicine Lodge here.
I haven't had a chance yet.
Oh, that's, uhyou got pretty well all grain cars, eh? Yeah, I think so.
FOISY: There is a lesson to be learned here.
It's that, when you have rules, you obey the rules and you enforce the rules.
If it becomes too much of a fraternity and a buddy-buddy system, it gets lax and problems occur.
And this tragedy was one of them.
Foisy demands that CN improve its safety equipment, recommending that all trains be equipped with reset safety control technology.
BEEPING These systems are much more complicated than a dead man's pedal.
If constant attention is not paid to the train, alarms sound and the train eventually shuts down.
It's equipment which has proved valuable several times since the disaster.
There was a study done with CN 10 years after this accident.
They found something like 90% of the train engineers saying that they had been woken by the alerting device at least once.
In response to Foisy's report, CN Rail creates one of the most sophisticated fatigue countermeasures programs in the world.
Trainmen are no longer on call seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
Napping is no longer frowned upon.
Rest houses have been created and improved, and locomotive cabs made more comfortable.
For the victims of the Hinton disaster of 1986, changes to Canadian railroading come too late.
I still remember the people that were killed in the accident, and good friends I had on the railroad.
And that's Yes, it does bother me.
It's now 20 years, nearly.
And I'm still going strong.
Very lucky.
I don't equate it to luck, no, no.
Too much of a tragedy to think about luck.
There was too much hurt that happened inside of me.
It took me quite a while to rebuild my .
.
my sanity again.
I got over it fairly quickly and got on with the life.
There may be lots of other people who weren't as lucky.
You can be going along in life and then something will come along and just kind of destroy your very foundation, or shatter your very foundation.
Andthrough no fault of your own, but life has a habit of doing that.
But the other thing I can share with them is that you can recover from it.
There is a tomorrow.
Supertext Captions by the Australian Caption Centre