MONTREAL - The last railway employee dispatched to the scene of the July 6 fire that sparked the devastating train derailment in Lac-Megantic, Que., was not qualified to manage the situation, QMI Agency has learned.
Jean-Noel Busque, a foreman employed by Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway, told QMI in an exclusive interview that his job was not to look after locomotives.
When asked which MMA employee was supposed to be on-site, Busque responded, "I don't know."
Before the runaway MMA train derailed and killed 47 people, its locomotive caught fire at a station where it was parked outside the small town. Firefighters extinguished the flames, and MMA dispatched Busque to the scene.
After Busque and the firefighters left, the driverless train began moving, picking up momentum before it charged into the centre of town.
New reports suggested that a broken piston in the train's engine caused the train to move on its own, and the Transportation Safety Board said it couldn't yet confirm what caused the initial fire.
MMA chairman Ed Burkhardt told reporters that the train's engineer, Tom Harding, might have failed to properly secure the brakes after parking the train and leaving for the night.
However, Busque's comments to QMI shift the attention away from Harding and raise questions regarding MMA's responsibility.
Harding's lawyer, Thomas Walsh, told QMI it was "a possibility" his client would be charged criminally in connection with the derailment.
Walsh said he was preparing his client's defence.