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Family of man killed by train in Chilliwack say changes needed

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The family of a man killed when his wheelchair became stuck on train tracks in Chilliwack says Matthew Jarvis had beat the odds to survive twice before the tragedy that took his life and as Kristen Robinson reports, they're pushing for safety around railway crossings – May 27, 2018

After everything that Matthew Jarvis had been through, Valerie Schneider was devastated to learn her long-time partner died steps from their Chilliwack home.

Jarvis was returning from a trip to 7-Eleven early in the evening on May 26 when his wheelchair somehow became stuck on the train tracks at Broadway Street near Arbutus Avenue.

“My kids no longer have a father because of a senseless accident that could be prevented,” Schnieder said.

READ MORE: Man in wheelchair dies after being struck by train in Chilliwack

Witnesses say two women jumped out of their vehicles and attempted to free him. One of the Good Samaritans suffered injuries to her hand as she reportedly held on to Jarvis and kept trying to pull him to safety as the freight train rolled by.

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His family is grateful for their heroic actions.

“These angels that tried to help him off the train tracks because his wheels were stuck I thank you, I don’t know who you are but I thank you that you were there with him. He didn’t have to die alone,” Schneider said.

She has now started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover funeral costs and other expenses.

Jarvis had already been through hell and back in his life.

A father to a young son, he worked as a canine security officer alongside a bomb-sniffing dog until a life altering crash on Jan. 17, 2017.

Schneider says Jarvis hit a sheet of black ice while driving on Highway 1 north of Kamloops. His vehicle went down a nine-metre embankment and he was ejected, suffering devastating injuries. The crash left Jarvis paraplegic but after months of rehabilitation at G.F. Strong Centre in Vancouver, he vowed to walk again.

Last November, Jarvis was hit in a crosswalk. Again, he didn’t let the setback delay his recovery.

“To us he was a survivor,” said Schneider. “There was nothing he could do that he couldn’t beat.”

Jarvis’ ex-fiancé Brigida Crosbie told Global News that “everything that he has done, everything people remember, he’s just an incredibly strong human being to have gone through everything that he did and this is just too much.”

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Jarvis had just enrolled in university and was eager to upgrade his skills as he prepared for a new career before his trip to the store ended in tragedy.

READ MORE: Two women taken to hospital after being hit by train in Chilliwack

His family is now demanding another look at the safety of railway crossings in the area.

“When a train track is coming through your community and there’s no way around it, it needs to be safe,” Schneider said.

In a statement, CN called the incident a tragedy and said the circumstances are under investigation. “The status of the crossing and its surface will all be part of our investigation — in other words, determining how he got stuck,” reads the statement.

Crosbie said she will be pushing for overpasses above train tracks and smoother surfaces at railway crossings.

With advancements in technology, Schneider said she’s still struggling to understand how this could have happened.

“There’s got to be a way that these conductors can see if somebody is on the tracks and they can stop that train well in advance so that this never happens to Matthew or anybody again.”

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