Hundreds of passengers stuck on train for hours after person struck west of Exhibition GO

·4 min read
A person was struck by a train west of Exhibition GO on Friday night, GO Transit says. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC - image credit)
A person was struck by a train west of Exhibition GO on Friday night, GO Transit says. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC - image credit)

When Robyn Rivard boarded the westbound GO train at Union Station Friday night, it was already close to 11 p.m.

Rivard was heading home to Cambridge, Ont., after going to the Toronto International Film Festival where she was hoping to meet Taylor Swift.

Somewhere between Exhibition GO and Mimico station, Rivard "heard something [and] felt something" before the train came to a halt.

"They didn't communicate much with us as everyone was being pushed through," Rivard told CBC Toronto.

"The only thing that happened was a crew member came through behind everyone in a reflective vest and said, … 'There's been a trespasser incident. We're going to be here for a while.'"

"That is the only thing we heard outside of refreshing Twitter … We got nothing for a good half hour and then eventually we hear, 'All right folks, we're going to be here for two hours,'" she added.

At 11:19 p.m. a tweet from the account of GO's Lakeshore West Train said, "We have received a report of a person struck by a train west of Exhibition GO. Emergency workers are onsite & #GOtrain will not be able to move through the area for about 2 hours."

Passenger collapsed due to dehydration

Rivard said it turned into a nearly five-hour ordeal for passengers.

"It was very frustrating … someone on the car I was on had collapsed [due to] dehydration," she said.

Rivard said she called the GO's 24-hour emergency response line to respond to the person collapsing, "because someone pushed the emergency alarm, but no one was coming."

According to Rivard, there was a flicker of hope a "couple hours" into the ordeal with an announcement over the train's PA system that the investigation had been completed and the train would be moving in less than three minutes.

"Everyone's, like, clapping. Yay, we're free."

Three minutes went by with no movement. Then another hour went by with no update.

"We were  just sitting there waiting and hoping," Rivard said.

Rivard said the train finally started to move again around 3 a.m.

When the train got to Mimico, passengers were asked to disembark due to "mechanical issues." They boarded another train, but the emergency alarm was triggered and passengers were again asked to disembark at Port Credit where that train was taken out of service.

CBC
CBC

After waiting approximately 15 minutes, Rivard said passengers boarded another train, which turned out to be the last one from Union Station.

"Finally we get transferred over and I make it," she said.

Rivard said it was 4 a.m. when she got to Burlington, where she had left her car.

"I'm off this train [and] it's like I'm halfway between celebrating, crying and sleeping," she said.

"I literally slept in my car in the Burlington GO station parking lot. That is how tired I was. I was not good to drive. I had been awake for 23 hours at that point."

Passengers tried to pry door open

Susan MacDonald, who was also on the train, said some passengers were trying to get off the first train and broke a door as they tried to pry it open.

"What struck me most is that all the while this is happening, like, there was no crew, like, there was nothing, it was just the passengers and there were hundreds of us … because it was so busy," she told CBC Toronto.

"We were pretty much left on our own … a lot of people were in shock, me included, because, you know, someone had obviously died."

Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC
Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC

MacDonald said when she arrived in Burlington, she had to get an Uber home because it was too late to get a lift.

"It was a trying night, exhausting … it was almost five and half hours before I got home."

Communication 'definitely was not enough'

Both Rivard and MacDonald said GO Transit dropped the ball on communicating with passengers during the hours-long ordeal.

Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said the team did issue an advisory about the suspension of service and "notable delays."

"Our thoughts are with all those affected by this incident and we appreciate our customers' patience during this time," the advisory said..

"Safety is our top priority. Emergency personnel are on scene and we are working to remove passengers from the train as soon as it is safe to do so."

The advisory said customers could show their GO fare to board the TTC at Union, Exhibition, Mimico and Long Branch.

"Customers can also take Lakeshore East trains back to Union to continue their trips from there," it continued.

MacDonald said that advisory did not get to passengers on the train and the communication "definitely was not enough."

"That was the consensus of most of the people that I was talking with. Like, literally there were two communications within five hours. The first one that happened [was] 'A trespasser went in front of the train,' and then the next one was, 'We're going to be leaving in three minutes,'" she said.

"So, there was no communication. No communication whatsoever."