The man killed in an incident at a Canadian Pacific Railway yard in Coquitlam last Monday (Dec. 2) has been identified as Mission’s Kirk Charles McLean.
The 56-year-old locomotive engineer had been with the company for 32 years. During his time with CP Rail, McLean achieved the level of locomotive engineer. He then began training new engineers.
He is survived by his wife Brenda and their two sons Devon and Jordan.
Details on how McLean died are still scarce.
“Well we know he came in on his train, he was an engineer himself, and he brought a train back from North Bend. He exited the train and had to cross some tracks to get to the management building and was struck by a work train that was working in the yard and killed. And that’s kind of all we know,” said Allan Serwa, McLean’s brother-in-law and spokesperson for the grieving family.
Serwa said what’s baffling to the family is how this tragedy occurred considering there are so many procedures and regulations about “how to go from A to B anywhere in the railroad.”
Add to that the fact that McLean is a 30-year veteran of railway procedures, and was somebody who trained people in safety, and Serwa says you have to wonder how it happened.
“We have never seen any pictures or video but my sister was told by the coroner that it was very dark and a question that immediately popped up into my mind was, in a culture where we can light up a local ball diamond bright enough to play a night game, why is a rail yard that’s got 500 ton moving machines so pitch dark that you can’t see a couple of feet in front of your face?”
When contacted by the Record, CP Rail released the following written statements.
“CP can confirm there was a workplace fatality at our Port Coquitlam yard on December 2.
“The company’s deepest sympathies go out to the employee’s family, friends and colleagues. CP is offering counseling to the family and our employees through our Employee and Family Assistance Program.
“A thorough investigation is underway into the incident. No further details are being released at this time.”
Serwa explained that it isn’t just CP Rail, but the Teamster Union, Transportation Canada and the Transportation Safety Board that are involved in the investigation.
When completed, the findings will be given to Worksafe BC and Serwa said it could take months before the family gets any answers.
“We are not trying to lay any blame on anybody, but we are curious as to how and why it happened.”
McLean lived in Mission for the past 22 years and was a well-known volunteer in his children’s school and later volunteering in the Mission Minor Hockey Association, assisting and later becoming a coach. He was a devoted family man who enjoyed spending time with his two sons, teaching them how to play baseball, to box, then later how to play hockey.
“Kirk was kind of a quiet, family-orientated guy. All of the railroad people that we talked to said ‘every time we were out on a run all he talked about was what his sons were doing,”’ said Serwa.
He would also call his wife and talk to her during every trip.
“He was looking to retire in about a year and a half and with his two boys he wanted to get more involved in golfing and maybe another sport of some kind. And he was looking forward to those kind of things and that’s why it’s such a tragedy for everybody.”
A Celebration of Life will be held Thursday, Dec. 12, at the Best Western in Mission, from 4 p.m. until close.
Donations to Diabetes Canada would be appreciated by the family.