A Transportation Safety Board report issued July 23, 2019 into the death of a man at the Broadway rail crossing in Chilliwack in May 2018 found the flangeway gap is a persistent problem for people in wheelchairs. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

A Transportation Safety Board report issued July 23, 2019 into the death of a man at the Broadway rail crossing in Chilliwack in May 2018 found the flangeway gap is a persistent problem for people in wheelchairs. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

B.C. rail crossing death highlights risks for people in wheelchairs: watchdog

Transportation Safety Board points to ‘persistent risks faced by persons using assistive devices’

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) says the May 2018 fatal railway crossing accident at Broadway Avenue in Chilliwack highlights “the persistent risks faced by persons using assistive devices.”

The TSB’s report released July 23 reiterates the need for improved safety at railway crossings for people using wheelchairs.

Matthew Jarvis died on May 26, 2018 when a CN freight train struck him after his wheelchair got stuck on the tracks. Two motorists attempted to save Jarvis before the collision.

One of them, Julie Callaghan, suffered serious injuries when the train struck her hand. Her injury is so bad that she needs to have her hand amputated, and she has been repeatedly called a hero for her actions.

• READ MORE: Heroism medal for Chilliwack woman who tried to save man in a wheelchair stuck on rail tracks

What led to the terrible accident just after 5:30 p.m. that day is a persistent problem for wheelchair users at all railway crossings, according to the TSB.

The motorized wheelchair Jarvis was in on May 26, 2018 had caster wheels 50 millimetres (mm) wide, half as wide as the narrowest gap next to the rails at the Broadway Crossing, referred to as a flangeway. The TSB found that when Jarvis, who was travelling southbound, stopped with the rear wheels on the south rail, he then moved the motorized wheelchair in the opposite direction.

“As a result, both rear caster wheels likely rotated and fell into the 103 mm gap at the crossing, known as a flangeway, between the sidewalk and the rail,” according to the report.

Impending changes to flangeways coming in 2021 as required by Transport Canada will reduce the maximum flangeway width to 75 mm.

“This reduction, however, would be insufficient to ensure that caster wheels of 50 mm, such as those involved in this accident, do not become lodged in the flangeway,” the TSB report found.

The detailed TSB report outlined the agonizing seconds before the impact that day.

• At 1733:27 (5:33 p.m. and 27 seconds), Jarvis began moving on to the crossing as the train was 6,706 feet from the crossing heading west.

• At 1733:34, he crossed the north rail, stopped between the rails and looked west and then east.

• At 1734:26, he moved the wheelchair in the opposite direction resulting in one of the rear wheels becoming lodged in the flangeway gap of the south rail, immobilizing the wheelchair. Addition movement resulted in the second rear wheel becoming lodged as well. At this point the train is 2,640 feet from the crossing.

• At 1734:34, the wheelchair still immobilized as the crossing gates begin to descend. The train is 2,110 feet away.

• At 1734:56, Callaghan and another woman attempted to move Jarvis to safety. They get the two rear wheels out but can’t move the wheelchair. The train is 592 feet away and the locomotive horn is sounded continuously for two seconds.

• At 1734:59, three seconds later the train is 410 feet away and the two motorists are still trying to help.

• At 1735:01, the motorists keep trying, the train is 280 feet away, and the locomotive is sounding its horn.

• At 1735:04 the train strikes Jarvis in the wheelchair, the two motorists attempt to jump out of the path, but Callaghan was struck and Jarvis was killed.

• READ MORE: One dead, one injured after being struck by train in Chilliwack

The TSB reported that following the investigation of a previous crossing accident involving a motorized assistive device in Moncton, New Brunswick in 2016, the TSB recommended that Transport Canada (TC) work with stakeholders to identify engineering options for the improvement of crossings designated for persons using assistive devices.

TC agreed with the recommendation and reported that measures were taken to identify and assess engineering options that would help improve crossing safety for wheelchair users.

“The TSB has assessed the TC response to the recommendation as having Satisfactory Intent.”

Transport Canada also issued a notice of non-compliance to CN that identified a number of safety concerns with the Broadway Street public crossing. TC also issued a notice to the City of Chilliwack concerning issues with the sidewalks and road approaches, and the city has improvement work scheduled for this summer.

• RELATED: Train whistling to halt soon at three Chilliwack crossings

• RELATED: Elderly man killed at Chilliwack rail crossing

• RELATED: Man who committed suicide at Chilliwack rail crossing remembered one year later

signoff

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria Hospice staff Brianne Ohl, left, Angela Chalmers, right, and Sandi Ogloff, at back, show off their buttons that show a picture of them smiling. Staff has worked hard to maintain the connections with patients despite the barriers of PPE and rigid COVID-19 protocols. (Victoria Hospice Photo)
Hospice provides compassion in a time of COVID

Victoria Hospice 40th anniversary on pause during pandemic

Look for the Random Act of Kindness Day colouring contest in Black Press issues Jan. 17. Physical entries can be mailed or dropped off to local Black Press offices. A scanned or photographed entry can be emailed to info@victoriafoundation.bc.ca. Winning entries can get a $50 gift card to Bolen Books and a $100 donation to a charity of their choice from the VIctoria Foundation. (Pixabay)
Colouring contest coming for Kindness Day

Kindness Day colouring contest in partnership with Victoria Foundation

Sidney has moved the remaining parts of its public consultation phase part of the Official Community Plan online. (Black Press Media File)
Sidney moves to an ‘all online engagement’ process for OCP

Staff says OCP charrette scheduled for mid-February

(File photo)
‘Very lucky’: Two passengers, dog escape rollover crash in Saanich unscathed

Vehicle flips on Trans Canada Highway after hitting median, possibly due to ice, firefighter says

The large metal gate stolen from Muddy Valley Farm in rural Saanich on Jan. 18 reappeared less than a week later. (Muddy Valley Farm/Facebook)
Large metal gate stolen from Saanich farm makes mysterious reappearance

12-foot gate returned to Muddy Valley Farm less than a week after it was stolen

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Most Read