MONTREAL – Gripping transcripts from the night of the Lac-Megantic explosion have surfaced, revealing the possibility that the engineer whose train derailed did not know what happened until a dispatcher gave him the news two hours after the crash.
On the transcript obtained by The Globe and Mail, MMA engineer Tom Harding calls dispatch in Farnham to tell him about the explosion.
Harding tells the dispatcher that “everything is on fire,” and then anxiously checks if MMA’s trains are involved.
He also asks if there are any tankers in the yard, to which the dispatcher responds they didn’t.
The conversation between the two continues through the frantic hours leading up to and after the explosion in Lac-Megantic back on July 6, 2013.
At 3:30 a.m., Harding has his fifth conversation with the dispatcher, and gets the shocking news that it’s his train that caused the explosion.
RJ: Okay, but it’s worse than that, my friend.
RJ: It’s your train that rolled down.
RJ: Yes, sir.
RJ: Yes, sir.
TH: Holy f***. Ahh..And it was secure, RJ, when I left.
The transcript comes out on the heels of a Transportation Safety Board report released on Lac-Megantic.
The report found that Harding and two of his colleagues bear some of the responsibility for the deaths of 47 people that night.
Harding’s lawyer Tom Walsh says he’s glad the transcript has gotten out, and hopes people will finally see the story in its proper context.
Harding is facing a potential life sentence in prison for his role in the crash.
“It will help a jury understand what his state of mind was was,” said Walsh.
“[Is he] a reckless inconsiderate individual or a person who did what he thought he should but unfortunately wasn’t enough? People will see it was the second one and after reading the transcripts.”
NDP Transport critic Hoang Mai insists the government failed in its responsibilities to do its job, and didn’t ensure safety measures were being properly followed.
“It shows recommendations that have to be followed,” he said.
“It shows that self regulating and self inspecting – the way the government has been acting with a a hands off approach – is not working.”
While the report does say no person is responsible for the fatal train derailment, that won’t change the charges against Harding.
He faces 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death.
His lawyers hope the leaked transcript will at least help the public better understand the whole story.
© Shaw Media, 2014