Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Train crash engineer speaks out

17 July 2013, 08:55

Lac-Megantic - The engineer who parked the oil train that rolled away, derailed and exploded in the centre of a Quebec town was heard from Monday for the first time since the 6 July disaster that killed 50 people, with his lawyer saying he is "devastated."

Lawyer Thomas Walsh said Tom Harding needs time to recover from the shock. Walsh said he hopes to get psychological help for his client, who has been staying at an undisclosed location to stay away from the media.

"I used the word 'devastated,' and I think that's one word that's applicable, but he's very, very low," Walsh said.

Harding had not spoken publicly since the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway train hurtled down a 11km incline, derailed and ignited in Lac-Megantic, near the Maine border. All but one of its 73 cars was carrying oil, and at least five exploded.

The crash, the worst railway accident in Canada in nearly 150 years, has raised questions about the growing use of rail to transport oil in North America.

Harding had left the train unattended overnight to sleep at a local inn shortly before it barrelled into town, devastating the down town bar area and forcing a third of the 6 000 residents to flee. Thirty-seven bodies have been recovered, and authorities continue to look for 13 bodies amid intense heat and hazardous conditions.

A local cabbie who picked up Harding from work the night of the accident said the idling train was expelling more smoke than usual. He remembered seeing oil droplets landing on his car and asking Harding twice about it. He said Harding responded that he'd followed the proper procedures before he retired to the inn.

An inn employee said the engineer had a look of terror on his face as he bolted from his room after hearing the explosion.

CEO blames engineer

Edward Burkhardt, president and CEO of the railway's US-based parent company, Rail World, has singled out the engineer as culpable. Burkhardt questioned whether he had properly set enough hand brakes and said the engineer had been suspended without pay.

Walsh said he would advise Harding not to make any kind of public statement about the disaster or the allegations of his culpability.

"I think we're better to let the dust settle and find out the specifics from the investigators - maybe if there are some specifics, he might want to respond to them," the lawyer said.

He said Harding has been co-operating with officials.

"He was interviewed for a long period of time by the Surete du Quebec [Quebec police] and by the safety investigators from Transport Canada last week," Walsh said.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Types of men that are a waste of ...

Most women end up heartbroken because they were trying to convince the wrong man to be in a relationship/ marriage. Read more...

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Cheating is hardwork!

Cheating, although enjoyable by the person doing it initially, it gets to a point they start realizing that it was never even worth it. Read more...

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Dating that one person that socie...

Works at a massage parlour. Works at Millionaires Club (that one on Baricho road) - you know the ones I am talking about. Read more...

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
What do men mean when they say th...

As much as men think they are the ones confused by relationships, they have a better idea of it than most women actually do. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
ODM rebels sweat in Kisii as Oran...

ODM rebels are sweating in Kisii after the Orange Party won by elections despite concerted efforts by the ruling Jubilee Party to win the elections. Read more...