'Miscommunication' may have led to CN worker's death: police

Police say a miscommunication may have led to a collision that killed a CN worker east of Toronto on Thursday.
Police investigate Thursday afternoon after a CN worker was struck and killed by a VIA Rail train. (Ivy Cuervo/CBC News)

Police say a miscommunication may have led to a collision that killed a CN track worker east of Toronto on Thursday.

Track maintenance engineer Rick McColl, 53, of Hampton, Ont., died after he was struck by a westbound VIA passenger train at 1:10 p.m. 

The accident happened five kilometres east of Guildwood Station in Pickering. McColl and another worker, who was not hurt, were performing routine track maintenance when McColl was struck by VIA train No. 51 travelling to Toronto from Montreal and Ottawa.

The accident is being investigated by CN, which owns the tracks, and the Durham Regional Police. Ontario's Labour Ministry is also investigating.

Durham Regional Police Insp. Dave Saliba told CBC News the CN workers expected the tracks would be free of train traffic while they worked.

"Both CN workers had made arrangements that the tracks would be clear for approximately 15 to 20 minutes to get scheduled maintenance done," said Saliba.

"Our understanding at this time is that there's some type of miscommunication that may have occurred, we're not sure exactly what the cause was."

Saliba said the train was travelling "at a high rate of speed" when the accident happened.

"The two workers that were there, we had one worker that ran to the north and one worker that ran to the south," he said. "Unfortunately, the worker that ran to the south was struck by the VIA train."

Saliba said police do not expect to lay charges.

Worker killed was a 32-year CN veteran

CN spokesperson Frank Binder said McColl was a 32-year veteran of CN.

"CN has asked its employees to keep Rick, his family and his colleagues in their thoughts and prayers," he said.

The accident caused some delays for VIA and GO Train passengers.

GO Train service was suspended between Pickering and Guildwood stations before resuming just after 5 p.m. Thursday.

With files from CBC's Ivy Cuervo