Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Man, dogs killed in train tragedy

Mar 10, 2009 04:30 AM
Susan Stock's little dog sounded the first warning.
She was at the door of her Shaftesbury Ave. home when he started barking loudly. She looked up and saw a small dog running on train tracks. "The next thing I see is a man frantically trying to get the dog off the track but his other dog also came (on) to the tracks," said Stock.
Seconds later, she saw a train approaching and heard its horn blow. "He jumped off the track and toward the fence, and the train went by. I lost sight of him," said Stock. She ran to the fence, screaming, "Are you okay, are you okay," but there was no response.
Because of the way the man was lying, she could only see his head, his green cap. "He wasn't moving. I prayed he was still alive."
Toronto police said the man and one dog died instantly. The other dog was so severely injured, it had to be put down.
The victim was Bob Campbell, 64, the Star has learned. He lived in a condominium in the affluent Rosedale neighbourhood.
He was walking along the south side of the Canadian Pacific freight tracks off Shaftesbury Ave., southeast of Yonge St. and St. Clair Ave., with his two Cavalier King Charles spaniels off leash, when the dogs ran into the path of a westbound freight train at around 8 a.m., police said.
The train stopped about 18 metres from the spot where the man and dogs were found.
"It was over in seconds," said Stock yesterday, shaking her head as tears welled up in her eyes.
Campbell's neighbours described him as a warm, friendly person.
"It's shocking. Everyone knew Bob," said a grey-haired man standing outside the condo who didn't want to give his name.
"He always stopped for a chat," he said, adding that Campbell took great care of his dogs.
"This is so sad," said a woman, who lives in the same building but did not want to be identified. "Bob was a great guy, loved his dogs."
She said Campbell was an original resident when the condo was completed about four years ago. "He was an active member of the (condo) board."
Stock said Campbell was walking with his dogs next to the railway, inside the fences that acts as barriers to the tracks.
"There are holes in the fence all along. Even if the fence is repaired, openings come up quickly," said Susan Wilson, who lives on Ottawa St., off Shaftesbury.
Wilson says it's common to see people, including students, crossing the tracks.
"Everyone does it. There are so many openings, people think it's an easy shortcut."
Metres from where Campbell's body was found, openings in both fences were easily spotted.
Toronto police Sgt. Tim Burrows said most fences have openings. "It would be difficult to block access everywhere. That's why there are always no trespassing signs."
Burrows said the rail route is busy, with trains crossing every 20 minutes or so.
The incident was preventable, said Mike LoVecchio, CP Rail spokesperson.
"The fence is not the issue, the issue is trespassing," he said.
"There is no need to trespass on the rail right-of-way and to do so is to take a terrible risk."
LoVecchio said he wasn't sure whether the fence is CP property but acknowledged that damage to the barriers is an ongoing problem.

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