Betty Melik-Hingston, passionate Operation Lifesaver supporter

We at Operation Lifesaver have embarked on a series featuring firsthand accounts from survivors, those who work with people who have experienced critical incidents, rail employees willing to share their experiences, and dedicated Operation Lifesaver supporters. In sharing their stories, we hope that you will be reminded of the very real dangers associated with trespassing on railway property and behaving unsafely at highway-railway crossings. Please share these stories with your family and friends so that no one you love befalls a similar fate. In this instalment of the series, we had a chance to catch up with a very passionate Operation Lifesaver supporter, Betty Melik-Hingston, whom many of you might already be familiar with through her strong presence on our Facebook page. Betty became involved with Operation Lifesaver 13 years ago after her family suffered the crushing blow of losing a loved one in a railway incident. Since that time, Betty has not only partnered with Operation Lifesaver by being an advocate for rail safety but her hard-hitting, memorable and thoughtful comments around rail safety education and awareness have also kick-started many conversations online. Why are you involved with OL? In 2001, my grandson Andrew West was killed walking the tracks. I got involved with Operation Lifesaver from then on, and I’m doing my part in spreading rail safety awareness. What kind of activities do you take part in as a means of promoting rail safety? [caption id="attachment_8327" align="alignright" width="350"]Betty, doing her part to educate about rail safety. Betty, doing her part to educate about rail safety.[/caption] I go to schools and locations where I am asked to present on behalf of Operation Lifesaver. What does rail safety mean to you? Today, there are so many distractions for drivers and pedestrians that result in them not being aware of their surroundings. This is an excuse—life is ever so precious, and society thinks that we owe them something. It is extremely important to educate and ‘Look, Listen and Live’. Why should the average person care about being rail safe? When tragedy strikes, all first responders, families, and the community are affected—it is hard on everyone. I do not sugar coat it any more regarding Andrew’s death. He was dragged 18 train cars. There is not a day goes by that we do not think of all the memories he would have had to look forward to: his first girlfriend, high school graduation and marriage. If you could communicate one rail safety message to Canadians, what would it be? We are taken by our parents’ hand to learn to walk, ride a bike, and through it all we all need support. Educate, educate, educate—I cannot say it enough. By educating yourself you can save a life - that life just might be your own. Thank you so much, Betty, for sharing with us the impact the loss of your grandson had on your family, and also for the tireless work you do to share the rail safety message with others. Your story is a powerful reminder that all railway-related incidents impact countless people. For more information and a wealth of free online rail safety resources, please bookmark Operation Lifesaver, and share it with your family and friends. Want to read more real life rail safety stories? Check these out: Please listen to Betty’s rail safety message:
By educating yourself you can save a life - that life just might be your own.”

Remember to ALWAYS: Look! Listen! Live!