CN Rail is continuing to investigate a partial train derailment that occurred on Friday, Jan. 3 at a rail overpass 12km south of Pemberton. At least three empty wood pellet cars went off the tracks, including one car that dropped onto the highway and blocked both lanes for more than two hours. There were no reported injuries, although vehicles were close enough to see it happen.
Mel L'heureux was driving south from her home in Pemberton to Whistler when she stopped behind another vehicle at the accident site. "Luckily everyone slows down for that corner regardless," she said. "I just saw the guy ahead had stopped moving and stopped behind him. We couldn't really tell with the sun in our eyes what had happened, my first thought was that a truck had flipped. But there was still a (rail car) hanging off the overpass, so we figured it out pretty quickly."
After ensuring that nobody was injured or needed help, L'Heureux was eventually able to turn around and drive home instead of continuing on to work in Whistler. Others waited on both sides of the accident for several hours.
While inconvenient she said it could have been much worse.
"There were no injuries, no spills of any kind," she said. "The cars seemed to be empty and amazingly enough no vehicles got pinned underneath it all."
The accident occurred at roughly 1:50 p.m. and CN and RCMP worked together to open one lane to alternating traffic by 4 p.m. Both lanes were opened later in the evening and all cars have since been removed from the scene.
The federal Transportation Safety Board sent a team to the accident site, but has decided not to pursue a full investigation. "We deployed an investigator to the accident site, but there were no injuries and no dangerous goods released," said TSB spokesperson Chris Krepski. "They did find a mechanical issue that the railway is now aware of, but beyond that we're not going to do anything more with it, and we're not going to pursue an investigation."
Meanwhile CN Rail has removed the cars and is conducting it's own internal investigation into the derailment. A spokesperson couldn't say how long an investigation would take.
A CN Rail worker was killed and four others injured in a CN derailment back in November near Fort St. John when a fuel tanker rolled over. There have been no serious derailments in the Sea to Sky region since a 2005 accident that spilled 40,000 litres of caustic soda into the Cheakamus River, killing over half a million fish and other species in the river.
Squamish 'Beer Belly Bandit'
A man who conducted eight armed robberies at stores in the Lower Mainland between March and December 2012 has been identified as 68-year-old Thomas John Schwartz of Squamish, who was arrested at the border after attempting to enter the U.S. on Dec. 15. Schwartz was also wanted in the U.S. after allegedly deserting from the U.S. Air Force in 1972.