Toronto transit worker dies in subway tunnel accident

A Toronto Transit Commission maintenance worker is dead after a piece of equipment crashed onto the work train he was aboard early Monday.

Closed Yonge subway section causes 'pandemonium'

AToronto Transit Commission maintenance worker is dead after a piece of equipment crashed onto thework trainhewasaboard early Monday.

Commuters jostled for a place on the packed buses shuttling between Eglinton and York Mills. ((Jamie Strashin/CBC))

Two other workers were being treated for non life-threatening injuries at Sunnybrook Hospital. One suffered a broken rib and will likely be released later in the day, while the other is still being assessed.

The accident forced the closure of a stretch of the Yonge subway line, causing what one morning commuter called "pandemonium." By Tuesday morning, the TTC expects full service to resume.

An11-member maintenance crewhad just finished its shift removing asbestos in an underground tunnelwhen the accident happened around4:30 a.m.ET in the southbound tunnel south of the Lawrence subway station.

Theemployees were on two subway work cars that were pushing a flatbed car carrying heavy pieces of metal equipment used as scaffolding by the asbestos cleanup crew.

Apiece of equipment snagged a cable sticking out of the tunnel lining, causing the equipment to dislodge and fall on the subway car behind it,crushing and killingthe operator inside, said TTC chair Adam Giambrone.
The accident occurred just south of the Lawrence station in the southbound tunnel. ((Dwight Friesen/CBC))

The operator, whohad worked for TTC for the past five years, was described as a model employee.

The Yonge subway line was closed between York Mills and Eglinton as the Ministry of Labour investigated the accident. Crewswere also busyfixing damaged cables and removing the work train from the tracks.

"It's a mess down there," Giambrone said.

Before city council resumed debate on the budget Monday morning, Mayor David Miller informed council of the death and asked for a moment of silence.

Workers gather at the Lawrence subway station to investigate the accident. ((CBC))

"The accident has been very shocking to all of us," Miller said later in the day, offering condolences to the family of the deceased.

Commuter chaos

Above ground, thousands of commuters jockeyed for a spot on buses shuttling them between York Mills and Eglinton stations.

One passenger, Hyacinth Clark, described the scene as "pandemonium."

"It's been like lemmings. One person goes one way and everybody goes that way," she said. "Nobody knows what they're doing, nobody knows what's going on."

Outside York Mills station, a massive crowd spilled onto all four corners of the intersection and sometimes onto the streets, stopping traffic in the northbound lanes of Yonge Street.

Several peoplecomplained of waiting three hours for an available bus. Others simply gave up and walked to work.

Giambrone thanked everyone for their patience, adding "We know everyone out there had a horrible day [trying]to get to work today."

"When something like this happens for whatever reason, there is no way to adequately replace our subway service," he said.

TTC officialsvowed to have more buses running along the affected stretch for the afternoon rush.