April 24, 2006
SAR derailment in Grande Prairie damages cars in track-side parking lot
A train derailment in downtown Grande Prairie [photo] left behind a few wrecked cars but little other damage on Wednesday night
(April 19).  Shortly before 7 p.m., Four box cars left the tracks

Wally Yakemchuk was doing some construction work on the interior of his new restaurant Woosabi in Junction Point when the
derailment happened.  He said he could hear the rumbling and the whole building shook and all the windows were rattling.
"I ran outside and you could still see the smoke coming off the pavement from the fires.  I ran over.  My first thought was that there was
someone inside but there was no one.  The horn (of the car) was still going off."  Fortunately, the owner of the car was doing some
work inside the building when the train went off the tracks.

"It sounded a little noisy on the tracks and my car alarm went off.  There wasn't anything out of the ordinary for this building here.  But
then the sirens started coming, I came down and discovered a wrecked car," said Terry Websdale.

Websdale's 2000 Chrysler was crushed right in and he believes it will be a complete write-off. He's just thankful he wasn't behind the
wheel at the time.  "It's a great thing no one was in it."

Websdale was in good humour despite the sight of his car smashed under a railway car. His car, he said with a laugh, probably
saved the building.  "Actually, probably my car was a blessing in disguise for the building owners. I think it slowed down the railway
car enough that it didn't actually touch the building."

Investigators are still looking into why the train derailed and that may take some time in this case, said John Oman, who works for
Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation's Rail Safety division.

"It's not anything obvious as to why the cars went off the track so it's going to take a while to figure out.  Sometimes it's fairly simple,
like a switch or something, but in this case it's not anything that we can drive up here and say we've got it figured out.  It's going to take
a while," said Oman, who was going over the scene of the derailment this morning.

With the investigation continuing, Oman said the wrecked cars will have to stay where they are for now.  "We've got to get some safety
experts in here to figure out what happened and we don't go moving stuff until we can look at it in a systematic way to investigate the
thing."  Oman was unsure how long the cars, including Websdale's Chrysler, will have to remain in the Junction Point parking lot.

Officials from Savage Alberta Railway, Inc. had not returned phone calls by press time the morning of April 20th.

Source:  Kevin Crush – Grande Prairie Herald-Tribune
Photo:  Randy Vanderveen   
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