A young life changed by trespassing on railway tracks

The night of September 17, 2017, started out like many other evenings for Elijah Gunner—a night out with friends. But its tragic ending changed his life.

The 20-year-old Winnipeg man was on his way to a friend’s house after a night of drinking with other friends, when he decided to take a shortcut across the railway tracks that go through the city—something he had done more times than he can remember. But this time, he wasn’t so lucky.

Gunner was hit by a train near the corner of Molson Street and Norwich Avenue in Winnipeg’s east end.

“I was just, like, sitting there, so I guess I just passed out waiting for my friends to catch up. I guess that’s how I got hit,” he says, although he admits he doesn’t remember the accident itself.

What he does remember is waking up in the hospital to find that both of his legs had been amputated—one below the knee, one above.

“I was pretty pissed off at first. But after a while, after I got in a wheelchair, I kind of just accepted it,” says Gunner.

He says he decided to speak out about the experience because he was upset that early media reports made it sound like the railway was to blame for the incident.

“But it was completely my fault due to alcohol and bad decisions,” he says. “It opened my eyes. I realized the mistakes and consequences that drinking can lead to.”

Gunner still faces a long recovery and rehabilitation. But he hopes his tragic experience will help him make wiser decisions in the future—and that his story will help others do the same.