Three years ago, a momentary lapse in judgment resulted in the tragic death of Kailynn Bursic-Panchuk just one day after her 17th birthday.
The young girl was killed by a train in Weyburn that she collided with as she was distracted at the time and not expecting the locomotive to hit her.
Now as we observe Rail Safety Week her mother Sandra LaRose is doing all that she can in hopes of being able to save as many lives as possible from train accidents as well as distracted driving.
"Rewind three years ago, I would have never thought I would have to tell my 16-year-old to make sure that she watched for trains," shared LaRose. "They're taught in drivers education and they see from a young age that you stop at the train but in Kailynn's instance being distracted for a split second cost her her life."
LaRose has been involved with Operation Lifesaver Canada for the past few years and they have even shared her daughter's story through their #STOPTrackTragedies campaign.
"I know there are other parents and stories through Operation Lifesaver that are shared along with Kailynn's like instances of standing on the tracks just taking pictures," LaRose told. "You can't actually feel that train coming and surprisingly enough it's such a common sound that I believe people don't even hear it. I grew up in Regina literally houses away from the train tracks. So it becomes just a part of your normal surroundings where a train whistle becomes as normal as a car passing by. Even standing on the tracks you would think that you would feel that vibration but apparently, you don't. You don't have those types of senses unless you are putting full thought into it. Trains are big, they can't swerve, they can't stop on a dime, and you won't beat them. So it's just a good message to stop at the tracks whether they're controlled or not controlled."
She shared that her daughter Kailynn was driving on a grid road southeast of Weyburn off of Highway 39 where she ended up attempting to cross the train tracks in her vehicle as she thought that the train was not in motion.
The goal of Rail Safety Week is to encourage safe behavior around tracks and trains and to remind people of the rules and dangers associated with trains that pass through communities.
"They were only going 50 kilometres per hour which isn't very fast for a train but it's fast enough that they can't stop," expressed LaRose. "I read the Police Report and to get a little bit of a glimpse into what a train crew goes through, they called 911 before they hit her car. So I can't imagine what went through their minds knowing they were going to hit her. She didn't see them because she was looking down. So I thank God every day that she was looking down because all I could think of was that she saw this train coming at her and she knew it was going to hit her. That gave me the worst feeling. Next to losing her was imagining the fear in her eyes. But just by keeping your alertness assures that you will wake up tomorrow. Kailynn's lapse of judgment and she was a smart girl, ensured that she didn't wake up. She sealed her fate by not paying attention. So my goal is to help people now and to ensure that they get to live fully without having it cut short for something so preventable."
You can learn more about Rail Safety Week and the #STOPTrackTragedies campaign by visiting the official website for Operation Lifesaver Canada.