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HomeBusinessExclusive: Man in mobility scooter injured in fall off SkyTrain platform

Exclusive: Man in mobility scooter injured in fall off SkyTrain platform

Bob Mackin

A man on a mobility scooter suffered electric shock and facial injuries when he fell into the tracks at Rupert SkyTrain station last December.

He was lucky there was no oncoming train when the incident happened Dec. 5, 2020 at 11:14 p.m. Unlike newer systems elsewhere in the world, none of SkyTrain’s stations have platform barriers.

Images from Dec. 5, 2020 at Rupert SkyTrain station (SkyTrain)

theBreaker.news obtained two incident reports from TransLink via freedom of information. Both said the man was found bleeding heavily from the nose by the edge of the platform and his scooter in the guideway.

Attendant Colton Hamilton’s report said that he began first aid on the man.

The injured man “informed me he was electrocuted from touching the power rail when he fell in. I bandaged [his] wounds and did my best to calm him down and tell him to breathe,” Hamilton wrote.

A firefighter helped lift the scooter out of the guideway and paramedics rushed the man to Vancouver General Hospital. The firefighter remained to help disinfect the platform with BeeClean.

Another SkyTrain worker, Chris Robertson, wrote that the injured man’s “scooter and belongings that were left behind are stored in room 107 to be picked up for the lost property.”

Robertson’s report said staff on-scene were offered critical incident stress counselling, but declined.

Service at the station resumed after midnight.

In a 2015 feature in the Georgia Straight, this reporter cited Coroner Liana Wright’s inquiry into a May 2001 death of a male at Royal Oak Station. Wright wrote that SkyTrain estimated in 1994 that it would cost $1.7 million to $2.2 million per station for barriers—as much as $50 million systemwide. Wright’s  report said that adding safety features to all stations “may not be fiscally attainable,” but said investments could be made at stations with high traffic or an increased risk due to “surrounding demographics.”

She emphasized that limiting platform access until a train’s full stop “would virtually eliminate the possibility for individuals to jump or fall in front of oncoming trains.”

Both Hamilton and Robertson’s reports indicated the incident was recorded on multiple surveillance cameras. TransLink refused to release the platform video, claiming it was protecting the identity of the injured man and others on the platform. theBreaker.news persisted, demanding that TransLink obscure the faces of the persons on the platform and, at minimum, disclose still images, because the public has a right to know about safety problems on SkyTrain platforms.

TransLink forced theBreaker.news to wait six months. It claimed the late 2020 ransomware attack against the agency had crippled its computer systems and was unable to process the video in February. Records clerk Sabina Kunkel said that the “majority of requests for paper and video footage are on hold at this time as records reside within systems that remain inaccessible. Many applicants have not received anything from us in over two months, while new applicants are being advised of significant delays still ahead.”

On June 7, Kunkel said a new system needed to process the request had finally been installed that day and the technician needed one or two weeks to finish the file.

The three photographs from surveillance video, with the persons obscured, were finally extracted from the footage and released June 15 to theBreaker.news.

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