The main train crossing in Agassiz

Agassiz woman has close call with train

Scooter saved from oncoming train by Chilliwack garbage man

A trip to the medical clinic ended with a dramatic twist for an Agassiz woman last Thursday.

Jeanne Hope was heading home from having some blood work done, driving her scooter over the tracks near the museum. But she ran into some trouble when the scooter’s wheel became lodged in the track.

“I couldn’t move it,” she said. “It was pretty frightening.”

To make matters worse, a train would be along shortly. While she was able to get off the scooter and leave the tracks, the 92-year-old’s only mode of transportation wasn’t moving for her. If she couldn’t move it, it would have been destroyed by the train.

“I couldn’t pull it, I couldn’t do anything,” she said.

As the railway crossing arms were coming down to stop traffic due to the oncoming train a truck driver stopped at the crossing jumped out of his vehicle to give her hand.

That was Scott Buchberger, a driver for First Class Waste Management. He managed to get the scooter off the tracks just in time for the train to pass safely.

“I was just going over when the lights came on,” Buchberger said. “I didn’t really think, I just jumped out of my truck and pulled it out of the way.”

It was only a matter of seconds before the train was at the intersection. As he drove off, he noticed that train was pulling its breaks and coming to a stop.

“I was surprised at how fast the train came,” he said. “I started asking her if she was okay, and it was right there.”

He said he was doing what came naturally, and that most people would probably do the same.

“I’ve never thought of myself as a hero,” he said. But as a regular driver in the area, picking up Agassiz and Harrison’s garbage once a week, he notes that he has seen others making their way across the tracks.

The tracks are the only way for people who live in north areas of Agassiz to get into town, on foot or by scooter. The tracks are deep and wide that even traffic slows down to cross.

Taking a scooter around is Hope’s only mode of independent transportation. Despite being in her nineties, Hope is very active and continues to curl at the Friendship House each week, although a friend drives her there.

The state of the train tracks is something that has worried Hope in the past. She travels by scooter a few times a week to get things done in Agassiz.

“It’s so rough (crossing the tracks) you can’t even stand it,” she said. “Every time I get there I worry about it. I try to speed up but it’s so rough, everything falls out of my basket.”

When she returned home after the close call, she called the District of Kent’s engineering department to let them know what had happened.

“I was told they’re working on it,” she said.

Mick Thiessen, director of engineering, said that this isn’t the first time someone has had trouble crossing at the Evergreen Road CP Rail crossing. About one year ago, another resident’s walker became stuck in the crossing.

At that time, the District sent a letter to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, which is in charge of that corridor, to look at what could be done to make the crossing safer.

With the close call on Thursday, they sent off another letter urging the ministry to give the issue “serious consideration.”

“These are our residents and we want to ensure their safety,” Theissen said. “I think they have to look at the tracks themselves and see what’s happening there and address pedestrian safety.”

He added that district staff is happy to help communicate with ministries responsible for issues that arise.

“It always helps when the District can write and assist them in getting their voices heard,” he added.

When contacted by the Observer, CP Rail said they are hoping the people involved will contact them to provide details of the incident.

“We take any incident like this seriously,” said media relations advisor Andy Cummings. “We will look into what happened and determine if further steps ned to be taken. Members of the community can get in touch with us through our Community Connect line,” at 1-800-766-7912.

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