Over the last decade, close to 1,200 Canadians have been killed or seriously injured because they engaged in unsafe behaviour around railway crossings, tracks and trains. Operation Lifesaver Canada wants to stop these preventable tragedies from happening. One of the ways we’re trying to do this is through our #STOPTrackTragedies
Launched back in 2018, the campaign tells the personal stories of those affected by rail crossing and trespassing incidents, including victims, friends and family, locomotive engineers and first responders. The campaign consists of 12 heart-wrenching videos that show the rippling effects of a rail tragedy—and serve as a reminder of how each of us can improve rail safety in our communities.
Sharing stories of loss to save lives
Many of OL’s #STOPTrackTragedies
stories are about young people who made tragic mistakes around railway tracks—young people like Chris McGlynn. On Oct 11, 2010, the 22-year-old was killed by a train in Cambridge, Ontario when he used tracks as a shortcut on his way home from a night out. It was a decision that ended his young life. Although it’s been more than a decade since Chris’ death, his family still struggles with the loss
“It just leaves such a hole in your heart. And there’s such a physical pain with it. There’s always that empty chair at the table, that missing person at every family function,” says his mother, Shannon McGlynn. “There isn’t a moment in the day that I don’t think of him.”
The campaign also includes the tragic story of 16-year-old Kailynn Bursic-Panchuk, who died after her car was hit by a train in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. Kailynn had been using her phone’s GPS to navigate and didn’t see or hear the train coming. Her mother, Sandra LaRose, talks about Kailynn’s death in one of OL’s #STOPTrackTragedies videos
, and how it has inspired her to educate others about the dangers of using cell phones while driving.
Living to tell their tales of tragedy
campaign also includes the stories of young people who’ve been involved in rail incidents and lived to tell the tale. Kennedy Rhodes lost her left leg when she was just 13—all because she made the dangerous decision to train-hop
. The Calgary teen was with some friends when she tried to jump onto a moving freight train. It was her first attempt at train-hopping, and she was lucky to get away with her life.
The videos also demonstrate how other peoples’ bad decisions can end in tragedy
. On March 15, 1999, eight-year-old Ashley Igo was travelling on an overnight train with her mom and some friends. The train derailed after hitting a semi-trailer truck that had tried to beat it through a rail crossing. Ashley’s mother, her two friends, their mother, and her 11-year-old niece all died in the incident. Ashley also lost her right leg below the knee.
As part of Rail Safety Week 2021 (September 20 to 26), OL will be promoting these and other #STOPTrackTragedies
campaign videos on broadcast and social media. Although these stories are often hard to listen to, we share them so that we can prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.
Remind your loved ones to stay rail safe by sharing these stories
on social media. And if you have a story to tell, please contact us
. By working together, we can save lives.