Trial Lac-Mégantic : the three ex-employees of the MMA are found not guilty

News 19 January, 2018
  • File Photo, Yves Tremblay

    Caroline Lepage

    Friday, 19 January 2018 14:15

    Friday, 19 January 2018 14:17

    Look at this article

    SHERBROOKE | The jury acquitted today of the three ex-employees of criminal negligence causing the death of the 47 victims of the tragedy of Lac-Mégantic.

    At the end of a trial that lasted more than three months, the jury rendered a verdict of not guilty in the place of Thomas Harding, the driver of the oil train that exploded in Lac-Mégantic, on July 6, 2013.

    It has also acquitted the ex-controller, Richard Labrie, who was managing the rail traffic during the night incendiary, as well as the ex-director of transportation, John Demaître.

    These three men worked for the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MMA) when their train loaded with crude oil, locked in Nantes, roared down the slope and derailed at 101 km/h in the city centre of Megantic, causing multiple explosions.

    The twelve members of the jury were sequestered for the evening of Wednesday, January 10, and they have deliberated on the evidence that has been presented since the October 2, 2017, at the courthouse of Sherbrooke, before rendering their verdict.

    The pursuit

    The lawsuit accused Thomas Harding, the locomotive engineer of 57 years as head of the convoy, to not have applied enough hand brakes on the train and to be trusted the air brakes on the locomotives to keep them in place. The defense had argued that this way of doing things, to secure a train with a combination of hand brakes and independent brakes, as was common in the MMA.

    The conductor has not performed to test the effectiveness of selected brake in accordance with the rules in force at the time.

    According to the lawsuit, when he was informed of the fire on board the lead locomotive 5017, and the fact that the fire department had turned off the engine, Harding would have had to know that this was a threat to the operation of the air brakes and he would have had to return to Nantes to secure the train adequately.

    John Demaître, chief operating officer of the defunct MMA, and Richard Labrie, traffic controller railway, it was alleged not to be informed by Harding of the manner in which he had secured the train and not be sent to a qualified employee after the fire of the locomotive, in order to ensure that the situation was under control and that the train was stopped so as to prevent any movement impromptu.

    – VAT New