Too early to speculate on Canada rail crash cause

Associated Press
The 'Black Box' recovered from the derailed VIA passenger train is displayed near the crash site in Burlington, Ontario, Canada  on Monday, Feb.  27, 2012.   A Canadian Via Rail passenger train derailed west of Toronto Sunday, killing three railroad employees and injuring dozens of passengers, officials said.  Via Rail spokeswoman Michelle Lamarche said the three people killed were all engineers riding in the cab of the locomotive at the front of the train when it derailed in Burlington, Ontario. A fourth Via worker in the locomotive was injured, she said. Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring also confirmed that three people died in the accident.  (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Pawel Dwulit)

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TORONTO (AP) — Officials recovered the data recorder Monday from a train that crashed into a building west of Toronto killing three engineers but said it was too early to speculate on the cause of the accident.

Transportation Safety Board investigator Tom Griffith said investigators were still looking into the cause of the Via Rail accident that also injured 45 of the 75 passengers on board Sunday.

The train was traveling from Niagara Falls to Toronto when it left the tracks around 3:30 p.m. Sunday near Aldershot station in Burlington, Ontario.

The site of the accident was only about 100 yards (100 meters) from where a freight train derailed some four years ago.

VIA Rail spokeswoman Michelle Lamarche said Peter Snarr, 52, and Ken Simmonds, 56, were both veteran locomotive engineers with more than 30 years of service with CN and VIA. Patrick Robinson, 40, the third engineer was a new employee who the company said was onboard observing as part of his familiarization program.

Lamarche and Griffith said they haven't ruled out the possibility that Robinson was driving at some point. Lamarche said Robinson was qualified. Griffith said it would have been under strict supervision from the other two locomotive engineers.

The train was changing tracks when it derailed. Weather was not believed to be a factor, as it was clear and dry at the time of the crash. It was not immediately known how fast the train was traveling.

The locomotive crashed on its side into a small building, and at least two passengers cars behind it were driven off the tracks into an L-shape. All six cars derailed, a Via official said.

Via Rail said 45 people were admitted to hospitals to be treated for injuries ranging from minor to a broken leg, a back injury and a heart attack. All but nine people had been released from area hospitals.

Deanna Villela of Welland, Ontario, said she felt a slight bump before the train jumped off the tracks, sending people and luggage flying. The crash lasted about 10 seconds but felt like "forever," she said.

"This is a truly heart-rending situation for all of us at Via," chief executive officer Marc Laliberte said in a statement.

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