'Help me,' man killed by Edmonton LRT screamed: witness
An Edmonton woman says she heard someone calling for help moments before a man was killed by an LRT train in Edmonton on Monday.
Marie Markiewicz was on the platform at Clareview LRT station on Monday when the incident happened.
“As I was approaching the stairs onto the top of the platform, I heard a man scream. He was very audible, it was very loud. He was screaming, ‘Help me, help me,’ multiple times,” she told CTV News Edmonton. “That’s also the time when the train started to depart.”
The Edmonton Police Service says a 40-year-old man was on the platform with a bicycle when he was hit by the train at the station around 3:20 p.m.
"As the southbound train pulled away, the train came into contact with the male causing injuries," Sgt. Dan Tames said in a news release.
Tames say EMS responded but the man died on scene.
His body was found near the Edmonton Transit Service D.L. MacDonald Garage, about 700 metres away.
Markiewicz said she didn’t see anything but added the train didn’t stop when it left the station, despite the calls for help.
“His voice sounded like he was either under the train or on the other side of the train because I couldn’t see him at all. As the train got farther away, I looked at the train tracks to see if a body was there but I couldn’t see anything.
“The farther the train went, the fainter his voice got, so I figure maybe he was dragged.”
She says she was frozen on the platform, not knowing what to do.
“I was terrified for him. I just hoped that he was OK.”
“There were a million things running in my mind, but I was just hoping he was fine.”
Several minutes later, she said transit staff informed passengers that train service would be discontinued.
ETS closed the line between Clareview and Belvedere stations until 4:45 a.m. on Tuesday. Buses were brought in to move passengers between stations.
"Our deepest condolences and thoughts are with family and friends of the individual involved, as well as those affected by the incident," Carrie Hotton-Macdonald, Branch Manager for Edmonton Transit Service (ETS), said in a statement on Monday.
"We take the safety of our passengers and staff seriously and are concerned about any incident occurring on transit property. Edmonton Transit Service will be conducting an investigation with support from the Edmonton Police Service on this matter."
Markiewicz would like to see a more rapid response when emergencies happen on the line.
“He was a passenger trying to get in the train,” she said.
“It just kind of questions the safety of the transit system and that’s what scares me.”
The union that represents ETS employees says the operator is not at fault. They’re calling on the city to implement new technology in the trains to prevent similar situations from happening again.
“Our understanding is that this is a no-fault incident. It’s a failure of process,” said Steve Bradshaw of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569, although he said he could not go into further detail.
“What we’d like to see is better technology that helps stop these things.”
Bradshaw says there are a variety of motion and speed sensors that could be installed on existing trains.
“Gadgets that will detect a difference between a stationary object and a mobile one for example, or differences in the speed of two objects. Those technologies are absolutely available and they can be deployed.”
He says the operator has been traumatized by the incident.
“Our understanding is the city has provided some time off with pay to this operator.”
Bradshaw says the city collision investigation team has taken over the investigation on the ETS side. The EPS conducted a parallel investigation, but Tames announced Tuesday that because there was no criminal element, the investigation had been concluded.
“It’s a terrible situation to happen. We don’t wish it on anyone.”
“Anything we can do to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future we should be doing.”
Mayor Amarjeet Sohi also addressed the situation on Tuesday and offered condolences to the family.
“We always continue to look for opportunities to improve our safety on the LRT system. We’re doing a lot of work to improve, having more security officers available as well as looking at the physical infrastructure on the LRT stations. So there will be an investigation done of this incident and if there are things to be improved then definitely ETS will look into that.”
The City of Edmonton would not answer questions from CTV News about its onboard emergency response protocols.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Alison MacKinnon.
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