Memorial for 2006 derailment victims
Published: July 29th 2009
Source: Robin Poon - Bridge River, Lilloet News
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Lillooet – Rail employees past and present
unveiled a memorial to two trainmen who died in a 2006 derailment
last Thursday afternoon at Downton Park beside the museum.
Holliday, general chairman of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference,
spoke first. He recounted the story of CN Engine 9606.
On June 29, 2006, the engine, with one lumber car attached, was
heading back to Lillooet for the night.
The train derailed when the brakes on the car and locomotive failed
to control the train’s descent down the winding tracks and steep
grade of the mountains.
The train car derailed first, eventually coming to rest 1,000 feet
down the mountain. Soon after, the locomotive also derailed and slid
about 800 feet down.
Conductor Don Faulkner and brakeman Tom Dodd both died. Gordon
Rhodes, the engineer, survived but was badly injured.
The report from the federal Transportation Safety Board (TSB),
released last May, blamed inadequate brakes for the accident.
The board noted that CN did not perform a risk assessment before
removing engines with “dynamic braking”, better suited for the
mountains than CN Engine 9606, from the route.
Dodd and Faulkner’s fellow union members volunteered to build the
memorial with the support of the District of Lillooet.
The volunteers erected a stone cairn topped with the bell of CN
Engine 9606, salvaged from the wreck.
Rocks for the cairn were collected from the banks of the Thompson
Holliday gave “a big thanks to retired conductor and master
stonemason Clive Casey” for doing the cairn’s stonework.
Former district councillor Marg Lampman delivered a statement on
behalf of the local member of the federal Parliament, Chuck Strahl.
Harry Lali, the provincial member of the legislative assembly for
the area, then spoke.
“As we remember Tom and Don…I would also like to point out how close
Gordon Rhodes came to losing his life,” he said.
He added that Rhodes’s survival was key to finding out the truth
about what happened in the train’s final moments.
Both Lali and Lampman cited the importance of workplace safety in
light of the accident.
“We remember Tom and Don and at the same time, we hope for the
safety of all workers,” said Lali.
Later, in an interview, he added, “TSB squarely laid the blame on
faulty, inadequate equipment.”
urged the federal government to enact tougher safety standards in
the transport industry and enforce existing regulations more
“Transport Canada should do their jobs.
“The ball’s squarely in the federal Ministry of Transportation’s
Lali also said that the province is partly responsible as well in
that it sold B.C. Rail but did not ensure that CN upheld the
former’s safety standards.
Holliday expressed similar sentiments in an interview in the wake of
the TSB report’s release.
He said of CN‘s safety policy, “They only do what’s required by law.
“What’s needed is a change in the law.
“I would like to see Transport Canada have more teeth.”
Holliday added that the union has long demanded adherence to B.C.
Rail’s more stringent standards.
“We have been working since Day One when CN bought B.C. Rail.”
But, he said, the railway was unlikely to act unless safety issues
begin to hurt profits.
“Safety in the transportation industry is compromised by the bottom
For CN change its ways, he said, “The price of the stock would have
According to Holliday, the Teamsters are now in the process of
pursuing criminal charges and a civil suit against CN in relation to
the accident. He said he hopes the case goes to trial so that the
railway’s actions are made public.
The cairn’s unveiling was followed that evening with a reunion of
former B.C. Rail employees.