Truck hits train with hazardous cargo in Manitoba
Published: June 14th 2010

WINNIPEG -- A disastrous situation was avoided when a garbage truck crashed into the side of a freight train hauling hazardous materials south of Winnipeg on Monday.

Officials say it was a fortunate outcome because the truck driver, a 43-year-old Oakbank man, escaped with non-life threatening injuries and the CP Rail trainís hazardous cargo ó including sulphur and sulphuric acid ó didnít leak, although a dozen empty rail cars derailed and at least 4,000 litres of diesel fuel spilled from a locomotiveís ruptured fuel tank.

It appears the driver wasnít wearing a seatbelt and, ironically, that might have spared him from serious injury or death, said St. Pierre-Jolys RCMP Cpl. Paul Manaigre.

ďHe may have been slightly thrown from the vehicle through the windshield, which may have saved his life,Ē he said. ďThis could have been much worse.Ē

The collision occurred at an uncontrolled crossing on Leclaire Road, about three kilometres east of Provincial Road 200 (St. Maryís Road), at 7 a.m. The crossing is 15 kilometres south of Winnipeg in the Rural Municipality of Ritchot.

The front-loading garbage truck, which was eastbound, belongs to Winnipeg company Johnson Waste Management.

Company resident Jack Johnson said the driver suffered a broken arm but was being examined to find out whether he had any additional injuries.

Johnson said heís thankful and relieved the man survived. He said the man was heading to a landfill near the rail crossing.

Manaigre said it appears the man noticed the southbound train, travelling 40 km/h, at the last second and veered to the right.

The truck struck the second of two locomotives, spun into the ditch and rolled onto its side, he said.

Manaigre said officers havenít interviewed the driver but the preliminary investigation suggests the man didnít see the train on his left, for whatever reason.

RCMP will look into things such as driver inattention and whether the manís vision was obstructed by the sun as it was low on the horizon.

A house nearby was evacuated as a precaution.

CP Rail spokesman Jeff Johnson said 26 of the trainís 86 cars were empty.

Johnson said the diesel spill doesnít pose any environmental or public safety concerns.

He said the collision serves as a cautionary tale and reminder to motorists and pedestrians to be alert at rail crossings.