BURLINGTON, Ontario — A Canadian Via Rail passenger train derailed west of Toronto Sunday, killing three railroad employees and injuring dozens of passengers, officials said.
Via Rail spokeswoman Michelle Lamarche said the three people killed were all engineers riding in the cab of the locomotive at the front of the train when it derailed in Burlington, Ontario. A fourth Via worker in the locomotive was injured, she said.
Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring also confirmed that three people died in the accident.
Lamarche said no passengers died but 45 were injured. She said 75 people were on board the train traveling from Niagara Falls to Toronto when the train left the tracks around 3:30 p.m. Sunday within view of a residential area near Aldershot station.
The locomotive crashed on its side into a small trackside building, and at least two passengers car behind it were driven off the tracks into an L-shape. All six cars derailed, a Via official said.
Amid the twisted metal and debris emergency crews scrambled to pull passengers to safety amid reports fuel was leaking from the train. Some passengers were carried away on boards and stretchers while others, looking dazed and battered, were led out of the wreckage by emergency workers.
Three passengers were airlifted to hospital, one with a heart attack, another with a broken leg and the third with a back injury. Forty-two other passengers suffered less-serious injuries and were either treated at the scene or taken to local hospitals. Some 30 passengers were well enough to continue on to Toronto’s Union Station by bus.
Deanna Villela of Welland, Ontario, said she felt a slight bump before the train jumped off the tracks, sending people and luggage flying. The crash lasted about 10 seconds but felt like “forever,” she said.
Goldring said the crash caused minor damage to nearby buildings.
“There’s no question it’s very tragic. We’re a relatively small company, we’re a family, we know everyone by name,” Via chief operating officer John Marginson said at the scene. “We certainly feel for the families of the colleagues that we lost.”
Transportation Safety Board investigators were on the scene Sunday. A key piece of evidence will be the train’s data recorder. Weather was not believed to be a factor, as it was clear and dry at the time of the crash. It was not immediately known how fast the train was traveling.