​Train conductor played significant role in Lac Megantic tragedy: Crown

SHERBROOKE, Que. — Train conductor Thomas Harding played a significant role in the deaths of 47 people in the Lac-Megantic tragedy because he didn't sufficiently apply the brakes after parking the oil-laden convoy, the Crown argued Wednesday.

Harding applied only half the required level of brakes and didn't test them to ensure they worked properly before leaving for the night, prosecutor Sacha Blais said in his closing arguments at the trial of Harding and his two co-accused.

On July 6, 2013, a runaway train carrying crude oil from the United States derailed in Lac-Megantic and exploded, killing the 47 and destroying part of the downtown core.

Harding and former colleagues Richard Labrie and Jean Demaitre are each facing one count of criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people. They have all pleaded not guilty.

Blais said the derailment and explosion would not have happened if not for Harding's actions.

Rules that needed to be followed were outlined clearly in documents, Blais said.

A train parked on a downward slope requires a certain number of brakes that need to be tested to ensure they are in proper working order, he continued.

Harding had stopped the train on top of a slope in nearby Nantes before the locomotive began moving on its own, barrelling into Lac-Megantic.

“The documents are clear” and not complicated, Blais said. “If Harding doesn't do his job properly and safely in Nantes, who will?”

Closing arguments are scheduled to last until Friday at the Quebec Superior Court trial in Sherbrooke.

© 2018 The Canadian Press