In the Line of Duty

Art P. McKay

BLE member Art P. McKay and conductor Ken LeQuesne were killed in the line of duty on May 14 as a railroad trestle collapsed under their Canadian National freight train. Two locomotives and six cars plunged into a ravine and caught fire.

Brother McKay, 51, was a member of BLE Division 843 in Prince George, B.C. He first joined the BLE on May 1, 1981.

Brother McKay was married and the father of a 25-year-old son and 23-year-old daughter. He was described as very athletic and community-minded.

His sister-in-law Nelda McInnis said McKay loved curling, golfing, and coached fastball.

"He was very kind, always thought of someone else. He donated a lot of his time to volunteering."

She said the family is overcome with grief.

The bridge was built in 1969. Officials said the investigation will be difficult because most of the bridge was consumed by the fire after the locomotives and train cars plunged off it. Officials also said there had been six derailments just west of McBride over the past three years.

The accident occurred around 12:20 p.m. on May 14 when two locomotives and the first six cars of an 86-car freight train derailed at the trestle near McBride. The locomotives and four of the cars fell into a ravine. The other two were at the edge of the ravine. All eight units caught on fire.

"I extend deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Brother McKay and Brother LeQuesne," said BLE International President Don Hahs.

Brother McKay was the second BLE member killed in the line of duty in the month of May. L.W. "Wayne" Edenfield was killed when a log truck pulled in front of his Amtrak locomotive near Hinesville, Ga., on May 6.

In both cases, President Hahs ordered the BLE flag atop the union's headquarters in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, to be flown at half-mast in memory of BLE members who have given their lives in the performance of their duties.

Brother McKay is the 33rd BLE member to die in the line of duty since January of 1996.

(The Vancouver Sun contributed to this report.)



© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers