CN employee killed in workplace accident identified

People in the Edmundston area are reeling after a 33-year-old CN employee died in a workplace accident at the local rail yard Tuesday.

33-year-old man had been working since September as a conductor and foreman trainee

Pierre-Luc "Sune" Levesque was killed in a workplace accident at a CN rail yard in Edmundston on Tuesday. (O'Regan Funeral Home)

The 33-year-old CN employee who died in a workplace accident at an Edmundston rail yard Tuesday has been identified as Pierre-Luc "Sune" Levesque.

Levesque's obituary, published Wednesday, says visitation will be on Friday and Saturday at the O'Regan Funeral Home in Grand Falls, the town where he was born.

According to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, the father of two was killed by a railcar at the Edmundston yard at about 8:30 a.m.

CN and the Transportation Safety Board were investigating the scene on Wednesday.

Glen Pilon, senior regional investigator with TSB, said Levesque was one of a three-person crew who were switching in the yard.

"During the switching activities there was an accident and one of the crew members was fatally injured," he said.

A CN employee is dead after a workplace accident at the company's rail yard in Edmundston on Tuesday morning. (Radio-Canada)

Pilon said investigators are doing tests, running simulations and studying equipment to find out exactly what happened.

"We still have the black box to go through," he said. "We want to be very accurate and very precise ... It takes the time that it's going to take."

'We're really sad that it happened'

Jean-Marc Morneault, who worked in Edmundston's CN rail yard for 36 years — mostly running the trains — feels distraught by the latest death in the community.

Morneault said he didn't know the employee who died but says it has a direct impact on him because of his line of work for so many years.

"It's pretty hard," said Morneault, who has been retired for nine years. "It shouldn't happen to a new employee or an old employee, but you cannot control accidents."

He said people in the community have also been left wondering about what caused Levesque's death, particularly those who have worked in the field.

"Even if we didn't know the guy, it's still our background," he said. "We're really sad that it happened."

A 'passionate railroader'

Christopher Monette, director of public affairs at Teamsters Canada​, the national trade union that represents CN rail workers, said Levesque had been working for CN since September as a conductor and foreman trainee.

"He was a really passionate railroader and obviously someone who's going to be missed by all of his Teamster brothers and sisters," said Monette.

Monette said the matter is still being investigated by the Transportation Safety Board and the union is working alongside them. Monette said the union has also been in contact with CN. He didn't elaborate any further, as the matter is under investigation.

The Transportation and Safety Board of Canada are investigating the incident. (Radio-Canada)

The union represents 12,000 rail workers across Canada.

"We promise them and our members that we're not going to stop pushing to improve rail safety across this country," he said. 

Jonathan Abecassis, spokesperson for CN, said the company wouldn't be commenting any further on the incident out of respect for the late employee's family.

5th fatality in 13 months

On a regular day, Morneault said the rail yard isn't too busy. There are about two trains that come in from Toronto to Halifax or Moncton. And on a busy day, he said there are about six trains that come into the city.

Morneault said he has heard of incidents like this happening in other parts of Canada, but not Edmundston.

"We probably had some near misses but that wasn't too bad," he said.

Jean-Marc Morneault worked at the rail yard in Edmundston for 36 years and has never heard of an incident like this happening in the area.

The death marks the rail industry's fifth workplace fatality in 13 months, according to the union.

This was the second serious railway injury in the region in two weeks.

A Via Rail employee was hit by a passenger train as it slowed at the Truro, N.S., train station on Nov. 23.

CBC News has asked the Transportation Safety Board for an interview.

With files from Shane Fowler