NOT GUILTY: Jury acquits Lac-Mégantic railroaders

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Former Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway engineer Thomas Harding, left, leaves the courtroom during a break on the first day of the Lac Megantic trial in Sherbrooke, Quebec., on Oct. 2. A Quebec jury acquitted Harding and two other railroaders of criminal charges that they were responsible for the deaths for 47 people in the July 6, 2013, crude oil train derailment and explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Que.
Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP
SHERBROOKE, Quebec — The three railroaders at the center of 2013’s deadly Lac-Mégantic oil train wreck were found not guilty on all charges after a months-long criminal trial in Quebec.

Canadian media outlets reported Friday afternoon that the 12-person jury announced their verdict after nine days of deliberation.

Montreal, Maine & Atlantic engineer Thomas Harding, manager Jean Demaître, and dispatcher Richard Labrie were each charged with 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death following 2013’s fatal oil train wreck.

Government prosecutors argued that the actions of the three men directly led to the derailment and explosion that killed 47 people and leveled more than 30 buildings.

Prosecutors presented evidence and testimony for weeks. When the prosecution rested in December, the defendants announced that they would not present any evidence or witnesses. The jury was released for the holidays and closing arguments began on Jan. 3. Earlier this week, the 12-person jury told the judge they were deadlocked but the judge urged them to keep working on a verdict.

MM&A train No. 2 rolled downhill into Lac-Mégantic in July 2013 after a fire started on the lead locomotive. A local fire department responded to the fire and shut off the locomotive, causing the air brakes to slowly release. Harding, the engineer, had only applied hand brakes to the five locomotives, a remote control caboose, and a spacer car.

UPDATED: Write-through on story. Jan. 19, 2018. 1:43 p.m. Central time.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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