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Foreman Saves ‘Unfortunate Stranger’ on the Track

It’s the job of Patrick Picotte, a PNR RailWorks foreman, to ensure the safety of everyone on the worksite. On a night in early June, that job included not only the workers but also a trespasser, drunk and despondent, whose life Patrick almost certainly saved.

It was around 11 o’clock, and about eight people from PNR RailWorks and Soncin Construction were at work on GO Transit’s Oakville Subdivision performing bridge repairs. Construction workers on a manlift saw someone who didn’t belong in the area and yelled to Patrick, the employee in charge. “We had already cleared two trains through our limits,” Patrick recalls, “then this guy decided to go out there” on the tracks.

Patrick quickly contacted Rule 42 Foreman Shaun Hansen, in charge of track protection, to secure an emergency stop to the approaching GO Transit and Via Rail trains. “Two trains were converging on the guy,” who lay between tracks 3 and 4. “They stopped about 200 meters ahead of where he was going to roll onto a track.” On Oakville’s Class 4 track, passenger trains can operate at up to 80 mph. Without the temporary slow order (TSO) in place, at 80 mph, a train could have reached the man in about 6 seconds.

As soon as the trains stopped, Patrick and Shaun grabbed the man. “We drug him across the three tracks and made the train stand by.” Certain that he could restrain the extremely intoxicated man, Patrick had Shaun work to lift the TSO to set the trains back in operation to avoid further delay. “I held him down by myself until the GO Transit police showed up.”

The man told Patrick he didn’t want to live, because he often had thoughts of harming others – awful to hear, but Patrick used his past Army training and “a lot of experience with people” to simply listen. “At the end of the day, you’re going to help.”

Personnel from GO Transit’s Safety and Security Division as well as PNR RailWorks praised Patrick for the impact of his actions to save a life and spare the grief of the man’s “mother, father, aunts, uncles, siblings …” and they shared their appreciation for Patrick’s “kindness shown to this unfortunate stranger.”