During the afternoon of May 28, 1980, the Canadian Pacific, along with the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way, were shocked, shaken and silenced to discover a bus loaded with Engineering Services employees known as the “Prairie Steel Gang,” was involved in a horrific three-vehicle accident. Known as “one of the deadliest motor vehicle disasters in Canadian history,” the accident occurred on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Webb Saskatchewan, a small town close to Swift Current, while the gang was travelling back to their accommodations after a shortened work day. Thirty people were on board, and 22 of the crew were sadly lost, forever changing the lives of their family, communities and co-workers left behind. This tragedy left so many people wondering why and how could similar incidents be prevented in the future?
In the 40 years since the tragedy, CP, alongside its bargaining unit members have made commitments to ensure the safety of the workforce. This commitment has evolved beyond the workplace, to make safety the top priority in our day-to-day lives to ensure we all get to go home safe. Safety is an ongoing journey. If we keep focused on our Home Safe commitment and strive to be vigilant about our personal safety and the safety of our co-workers, we can make a difference to prevent these and other kinds of heartbreaking occurrences from happening.
“The Prairie Steel Gang incident is a tragic reminder of the importance of safety in all aspects of one’s life,” said Justin Meyer, Vice-President Engineering. “While we take a moment to remember members of the CP family lost in this horrific accident, we must also honour them by remaining vigilant about safety at work and at home.”
A roadside memorial now marks the accident so that we will remember the souls lost on that fateful day. The CP Engineering Health and Safety Policy Committee consisting of senior management, as well as senior representatives of the TCRC-MWED and the IBEW, will take the time to honour our fallen members and are asking everyone to take the time and remember those precious lives lost 40 years ago.
“Each and every day our members working in the Engineering Department plan to return home safely to their families said Ken Deptuck, Engineering H&S Policy Co-Chair. “Unfortunately the Prairie Steel Gang employees did not return home safely that tragic day. We honor these employees lost, with their families in always remembering them.”
The Engineering Health and Safety Policy Committee had planned a roadside memorial visitation on the anniversary date. Due to present travel restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, the visitation will be set for a later date.
CP ENGINEERING H&S POLICY COMMITTEE
Management Co-Chair, Justin Meyer
Labour Co-Chair, Ken Deptuck