VANCOUVER ISLAND, British Columbia — On April 20, 10 rail cars loaded with logs broke free from cable in a reload yard near Woss, a village of under 200, and sped down the track, spilling the logs upon colliding with a track maintenance car where a crew was working. Jacob Dorino Galeazzi, Roland Gaudet, and Clem Reti were killed. Two other workers were injured.
It took about 60 loggers, firefighters, police and paramedics almost five hours to get the last man out from under the logs.
All the workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 1-1937, work for Western Forest Products. “We pass on our condolences to the families,” Brian Butler, USW local president, told the Militant April 26. “We believe it to be mechanical, not human error.”
Butler said there were two questions central to finding the cause: Why did the rail cars uncouple from the cable, and why did the train, which was diverted onto a safety derail track, go back onto the mainline and continue downhill?
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced no criminal charges will be laid. Investigations by the federal government’s Transportation Safety Board, the provincial WorkSafeBC, and a joint investigation by the company and union are ongoing.
In nearby Port McNeill workers expressed a variety of opinions on the deaths as the Militant talked with them on their doorsteps April 25. “I’ve worked in logging, fishing, mining for years — right about 50 years. All told, I’ve seen four fatalities and many near misses,” Don Labbey said. “You have to say how can this be prevented in the future.”