CALGARY—A veteran Canadian Pacific Railway engineer says railroaders are supporting each other after a derailment in the Rocky Mountains earlier this week claimed three of their own.
“All the people I work with are incredible professionals, and we take care of each other and watch each other,” Carl Schnurr of Calgary said yesterday.
A train carrying 112 grain cars and with its air brakes on was parked on a grade before it started moving on its own around 1 a.m. Monday just east of Field, B.C.
No handbrakes had been applied.
Engineer Andrew Dockrell, conductor Dylan Paradis, and trainee Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer had just taken over from a crew who were approaching their maximum hours.
“Because we try and take care of each other so much, this just hurts even more,” Schnurr said before starting his work day on the railroad.
Schnurr has set up a GoFundMe campaign called the Laggan Relief Fund for families of the victims.
By late afternoon Wednesday, it had raised more than $57,000.
“We need to take care of these families. I can't stress that enough," Schnurr said. "Their lives are changed forever.”
Dockrell's siblings said in a statement that the engineer had worked with the rail company since 1985 and only had a few years left until retirement.
“He was a very devoted employee and had worked in Alberta, British Columbia, and also in Ontario when they had a man shortage,” said Ed and Heather Dockrell.
They said that he loved golf and the Boston Bruins, and had a strong faith in God.
He took his job seriously but also made it fun, added Schnurr. He said Dockrell went by the nickname “Doc” at work.
“Andy was a great character to work with," Schnurr said. ”He had a nickname for everybody and it was great working with him.
“He seemed to be always upbeat and enjoyed what was going on, and liked to have a good time with his workers.”
Paradis was a father of two young girls and Schnurr said he can't imagine what his widow is going through.
“Dylan was great to work with—big smile on his face, enjoyed his job,” he remarked.
“I don't think I ever heard any negative comments out of him.”
Schnurr never meet Waldenberger-Bulmer, who started at the railway in November. But Schnurr said he has worked with Waldenberger-Bulmer's twin brother, Jeremy, who is a Canadian Pacific conductor.
“I feel like half of me is gone now,” Jeremy Waldenberger-Bulmer said in a statement.
He added he and his brother planned to work their entire careers at the railway together before retiring to play golf around the world.
“My 19-month-old daughter is walking around saying 'Unco Dano' as a constant reminder he is still with us,” he noted.
“Myself, my wife, Merika, and our daughter, Tenley, feel an emptiness in our home that is indescribable.”
The derailment happened between the Lower and Upper Spiral Tunnels in Yoho National Park. The tunnels were built 110 years ago to help trains traverse a treacherous, steep hill around the Kicking Horse Pass.
“This territory's among the most challenging railway territory in North America,” Transportation Safety Board senior investigator James Carmichael said Tuesday.
Canadian Pacific said in a statement late yesterday that it re-opened the main line through Field, B.C. earlier that day after completing all necessary safety checks in close collaboration with Transport Canada.
CP crews and contractors are still “working diligently in challenging conditions to remove the damaged rail cars and equipment.”
The company said Tuesday that is expected to take “a number of days.”
Schnurr said the loss of his colleagues was weighing on him when he boarded a train the day after the crash. But, he added, he and his co-workers are taking it one step at a time.
“We have to continue to keep each other's backs, especially in this situation,” he remarked.