An Edmonton man is fortunate to be alive after he hopped a freight train and nearly froze to death Friday when he couldn’t dismount the train between Wetaskiwin and Blackfalds.
Const. Steve Murray of Lacombe Police Services said Monday the 29-year-old man was discovered lodged between two rail cars near Blackfalds about 3:45 a.m.
He was found by Const. John Hubbard of Lacombe police and a Red Deer Rural RCMP member, Murray said.
“The fellow had jumped onto the coupling,” Murray said.
When discovered his core body temperature had sunk to 32 C which is almost five degrees less than normal.
The man had hopped the train in Wetaskiwin around 3 a.m. and hitched what he believed to be a short ride before he found himself in danger of freezing to death, said Sgt. Patrick Webb of RCMP in Calgary.
The man, who was intoxicated, had climbed aboard the slow moving freight intending to jump off again after a few blocks.
However, the train gained speed and the man realized that he couldn’t get off.
The train continued south and the man realized he was becoming hypothermic and in danger of going unconscious, Webb said.
The man managed to call police who launched an intensive search to find out which train he was on and where it was headed.
Police made numerous calls to CP Rail and CN to identify the train.
The search was narrowed to two possibilities and ambulances were mustered and put on standby.
An ambulance was finally dispatched when RCMP were able to identify the train the man was on.
Wetaskiwin, Ponoka and Red Deer Rural RCMP were advised and updated along with Lacombe police.
When the two trains were eventually stopped including the one near Blackfalds, the train whistle was sounded and police listening on the man’s cellphone then identified the correct train.
Hubbard and his counterpart then started at the beginning of the train and walked back 38 cars through deep snow drifts before finding the man.
Murray said the man couldn’t walk so the train had to be moved slowly to a point where ambulance personnel could get him.
“He was so far into hypothermia he was essentially unconscious,” Webb said.
The temperature at the time was minus 24C.
The man was taken to hospital and has recovered well, Webb said late Monday.
He didn’t suffer frostbite and was discharged from hospital.
A railway spokesman said the man has been charged with trespassing by CPR police.
“He’s one very lucky guy,” Webb said.
“If anything this should serve as a lesson to everyone about hopping on a train.
“Climbing on a train is both illegal and very dangerous in all weather conditions. People can get killed or seriously injured,” he added.