September 24, 2014

Always a market for danger – with a photo

As published in the Erin Adovcate

Do you cut people some slack on their wedding day, even if they’ve done something stupid, or do you throw the book at them?

Nobody got hurt when a wedding party had to scurry off the Forks of the Credit trestle bridge on September 13.

Naturally, the OPP want to discourage high-risk behaviour – about 30 people die every year in Ontario while trespassing on rail lines. Still, I would not want the job of tracking a couple down on their honeymoon to lay a charge. And I wouldn’t want to be at the controls of a train going 90 kph, knowing that it would take 1,600 metres to come to an emergency stop.

“By the time a locomotive engineer sees someone on the tracks it is already too late to stop the train,” says a release from Caledon OPP. This wedding party was in no mood to wait around to speak with them, and the police are now asking for witnesses and Crime Stoppers tips.

A trespassing conviction under the federal Railway Safety Act carries a maximum fine of $10,000 or one year in prison.

I happened to be on that sightseeing train, which fortunately was moving very slowly, attending a seminar on the Greenbelt organized by Credit Valley Conservation. More about that in a future issue.

The situation was more alarming at first, since it was announced to the passengers that the train had struck someone, but not caused a serious injury. That turned out to be a false rumour.

I didn’t witness the wedding party on the tracks, but saw them from quite a distance afterwards, arguing with the train crew. Mike Davis, co-publisher of Niagara Escarpment Views Magazine, was in the front of the viewing level and got the photo of them on the bridge that really pushed this story to a wider audience.

It’s not every day that a reporter from the Toronto Star calls with a bunch of questions. They found the photo and story interesting enough to run on Page 1. I was even contacted by CTV News, but they dropped the story when they discovered there was no video.

Martin Lamprecht Photo

After the people left and we were waiting for the OPP, I saw Erin photographer Martin Lamprecht outside taking pictures of the train. He happened to be out for a hike and came upon the scene.

“I got almost arrested when the police arrived and I was near the tracks,” he said.

I received another story of a bride on that bridge, from Jo Fillery, formerly of What’s Cookin’ and now with Central Counties Tourism:

“On April 9, 1988, we went for a hike along these same tracks with our family. It was the day after our wedding and we had stayed overnight at the Cataract Inn. After breakfast, we all went for a walk along the tracks (assuming they were no longer in use).

“We had actually walked across the trestle bridge and when we came up to Forks of the Credit Road, that's when we saw the sign forbidding access to the tracks. We then switched our walk to the road and about 15 minutes later, when we were well around the bend and the tracks were out of sight... we heard the unmistakable whistle!

“At the time, we all thought it was quite amusing. When I saw this current story, I realized how damn lucky we were!”