Cannabis kills, speed kills, but trains they just keep a-rollin’

by Jack Locke

My most solid memory of Dylan Ford is of time he showed up at my kitchen door when I lived on Grey Ave in Montreal. He was a big-boned kid, at least 6 feet tall, and like most kids of 15, he was polite.That was years before he was killed by a VIA Rail train on Oct. 31, 2010.

Is Nathan in?” He asked.

He is,” I replied.

The train that struck Dylan and two others was reportedly traveling at 70 mph. Of course, the coroner’s report downplayed the speed and said it was moving at 63 mph. The coroner also said the speed limit in that zone of track was 65 mph. The speed of the train mattered little to Dylan, Mitch, and Ricardo, but it does matter to me.

I received documents from Canada’s federal Transportation Safety Board that said the train was hot-rodding down the tracks at 70, but what do they know? A lot. I trust the TSB. Dylan may have been 16 when he showed up at our apartment.

He’s in his bedroom, just down…” I pointed.

“…the hall,” Dylan completed my sentence.

That’s right.” It would be about the last time I ever saw the kid.

Three years after our brief encounter, the VIA Rail train arriving in Montreal at 3 A.M., after having been delayed three hours by another rail fatality in Toronto, would literally slice through three boys. There seems to be a preponderance of threes in this story, I apologize for that. Since three is not a lucky number, lets look at “one.” My request for the locomotive event recorder information from VIA was sent only once, and their refusal came only once.

Dylan was smiling as he passed by me on his way to Nathan’s room. I wasn’t smiling when I received VIA’s refusal to turn over their information to me a few long months after Dylan’s death. VIA is not like most commercial train companies: VIA Rail is a Canadian federal Crown corporation, and as such is owned by the people of Canada, and has a legal duty to provide information to busy-bodies like me. But like most Canadian governments when it comes to protecting one’s ass they adopt a strict policy of “Loose documents sink ships,” or whatever other mode of transportation is involved.

I thought naively, that the death of three boys might cause an inquiry— by the police, by the federal Transportation Safety Board, by VIA, or by Quebec’s coroner. The coroner thought it important to mention that Dylan had the presence of various substances in his blood stream. Oh yes. It is important to note such a detail when trying to deflect responsibility away from one entity and place the responsibility on an innocent kid who made the mistake of walking on train tracks at a time when there was not supposed to be a train passing. The presence of alcohol and cannabis in the victim indicates there is no need to check the toxicology of the train’s engineer, at least the coroner saw no reason to do so.

And so the case is closed. According to the Quebec government, there is no need to review the coroner’s report. No need to ask questions as to why a polite kid was smashed to pieces by a train. After all, the kid had a blood alcohol reading of “85 ml/100 grams et de (présence) de cannabis chez le victime.”


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