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Criminal charges filed against workers involved in deadly crude oil train accident

May 20, 2014
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Ten months after the tragic accident involving a crude carrying train in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, criminal charges have been filed against three employees of the now-defunct company Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway Ltd., the Associated Press reported.

Engineer Thomas Harding, manager of train operations Jean Demaitre and railway traffic controller Richard Labrie face 47 counts of criminal negligence regarding the derailment of the train and the subsequent explosion, which killed 47 people and caused severe damage to the town of Lac-Megantic in July 2013. One charge has been filed for each person that was killed in the disaster. In Canada, death caused as a result of criminal negligence could send the culprit to prison for life, the news source said.

The prosecution stated that the charges were filed after a careful consideration of all evidence gathered at the scene of the accident. Although prosecutors had intended to file the charges earlier, they were delayed by the arrest of the three railway company workers and by the necessary talks with the families of the victims.

According to Thomas Walsh, legal representative of Harding, his client would plead not guilty. Harding was arrested by a SWAT team in a "a complete piece of theater that was totally unnecessary," Walsh told the Associated Press. The engineer is accused of failing to ensure enough brakes were set to prevent the train from speeding downhill toward the town.

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