There are at least 47 families who will sleep a little bit better tonight, after the discovery of 3 arrests made in the Lac Megantic disaster. The Sun reports that a SWAT team descended on one of the individuals responsible today, and that 3 arrests were made in the process. The Sun also reports that all of the accused have been released on bail.
On July 6, 2013, the town of Lac Megantic, Quebec suffered a tragedy that has been reported by Maclean's Magazine as the fourth most devastating train tragedy in Canadian history. At approximately 1:15 P.M. E.S.T., after a fire that had been going on all night, an unattended train carrying more than 70 cars of crude oil went off its track and barrelled into the Musi-Café, a summer time hangout for the locals in Lac Megantic. 47 Canadians were burned to death instantly, and 47 moms, brothers, sisters, daughters, lovers, exes, and friends began the grieving process.
After almost a year of finger pointing, marital breakups, corporate scandal, and headlines, 3 men are facing charges. The Sun reports that tactical officers arrived in Eastern Townships, Quebec to arrest Tom Harding today, "the center of the Lac Megantic railway disaster". A spokesman for the Crown told the CBC that Harding is the manager of train operations.
The Sun also reports that this is not the first time Harding has been visited by police within the past few months. Earlier this year Harding was reportedly visited because he had a weapon on site. Suspicion of harm to others however was apparently not the case, and police were reportedly conducting a wellness check on Harding under the suspicion of a suicide risk.
A spokesman for the Crown tells the CBC that Harding and two other employees are facing 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death. The two other individuals facing charges are the company controller Richard Labrie, and the operations manager John Demaitre who were arraigned this afternoon at the Lac Megantic Sports Complex, an area of town where the Musi-Café is going to be rebuilt.
In most cases, arraignment would occur in court, however in this case officials wanted this symbolic event in this tragedy near the site where 47 Canadians lost their lives. The CBC also reports that "the defunct railway at the heart of the disaster" is also facing charges.
The Montreal Gazette reports that the families of the victims are handling it as best as they can. The families are not angry, but the people of Lac Megantic are just…sad.
Yannick Gagne the owner of the Musi-Café spoke to The Montreal Gazette about how important it was to rebuild the little bar, and rebuild the little community.
“Every day and every night, in all my dreams, it is always there. The mood in Mégantic is very dark and heavy. It is a small town and everyone knows everyone. That is why we cling to these small announcements, to try to have a normal life.”
These small announcements mean everything to Lac Megantic, and there will likely be many more. 1310 News reports that the men accused have been released on a $15,000 bond, and are due to appear in court September 11. Conditions of release include appearing in court, and they are unable to change their current address or residence or work in the railway industry without supervision. Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway are included in the criminal charges, and will likely be included or named in wrongful death suits in the future.