By Justin Mikulka • Tuesday, January 23, 2018 – 10:51
The train engineer and two additional rail workers who faced charges for the deadly July 2013 oil train accident in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, were acquitted on Friday after the jury deliberated for nine days. If convicted of all charges, they potentially faced life in prison.
The end of the trial of these three employees for their role in the Canadian oil train disaster that resulted in 47 deaths and the destruction of much of downtown Lac-Mégantic appears to have brought some closure to residents of the still-recovering town — although most are still waiting for justice.
As the trial began, the BBC reported the sentiments of Lac-Mégantic resident Jean Paradis, who lost three friends in the accident and thought the wrong people were on trial.
“It’s clear to me the main shareholder, MMA, are not here. Transport Canada is not here. Transport Canada have let cheap companies run railroads in Canada with less money for more profit…” Paridis told the BBC. Transport Canada is the Canadian regulatory agency with rail oversight.
Another resident, Jean Clusiault, who lost his daughter in the disaster, told the CBC that after the decision, “I felt relieved because these are not the right people who should be there.”
The sentiment that these three men should not have been found guilty was even expressed by the former CEO of the rail company that operated the train that caused the disaster.
“I was happy when I heard the verdict. I think the jury made the right decision,” Edward Burkhardt, former chairman of rail company Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MMA), told Radio-Canada.
No rail executives, politicians, or regulators were ever charged with any crimes relating to the Lac-Mégantic disaster.