Two angry citizens heckle Rail World Inc. president Edward Burkhardt as he tours Lake Megantic - 10 Jul 2013 Ryan Remiorz.
10 July 2013
I Wanted to See My Children's Murderer
Lake Megantic Quebec - Jeers and icy stares greeted the head of a railway company as he arrived Wednesday to visit the small Quebec community shattered by a train disaster.
One local man, Raymond Lafontaine, whose son and two daughters-in-law are among the 60 still missing, says he wanted to come and see "his children's murderer."
He says he's been contacted by others offering to pay cash to use his equipment to have the train tracks ripped from the ground.
Though Ed Burkhardt's arrival in Lake Megantic was a hot topic among residents, only a dozen or so gathered to watch the president of the Chiacago-based Rail World Inc. as he gave an impromptu news conference after being cornered by reporters.
One man blamed the modest turnout on Burkhardt, accusing him of slinking in the shadows to avoid facing a potentially angry crowd.
But what residents lacked in numbers, they made up in indignation, with some hurling insults at the man they hold responsible for the loss of their homes and loved ones.
One man said he sped over on his bicycle after finding out Burkhardt was there, in order to shout at him. The cyclist delivered a string of swear words.
Burkhardt's comments at the news scrum, held in the middle of a residential street, were at times drowned out by hecklers who shouted profanities.
One onlooker with a booming voice demanded that he visit the site that used to be Lake Megantic's downtown core, until it was obliterated by Saturday's deadly derailment.
"It's a catastrophe!" one man belted out in French as the American businessman answered a question. The heckler then added in English, through a thick French accent: "Go walk there!"
Provincial police kept one woman at bay as she waved Canadian and American flags while trying to approach Burkhardt, while there were a couple of journalistic shoving matches while media members struggled to get a better shot of Burkhardt.
The railway boss explained that he'd stayed in Chicago to deal with the crisis from his office, where he was better able to communicate with insurers, the media, and officials in different places during what he described as 20-hour work days.
"Am I a compassionate person?" Burkhardt said, during a lengthy press conference where he calmly answered dozens of questions.
"I feel absolutely awful. I am devastated by what's happened."