|Ottawa Citizen 25 October 1993|
OPP officers die in collision with train
A police cruiser with its emergency lights flashing was broad-sided Sunday by a VIA Rail passenger train at a level crossing in Casselman, killing two provincial police officers inside the car.
The red warning lights at the crossing in the centre of the town. 60 kilometres east of Ottawa, were working at the time of the collision.
Constables Richard Jean. 23. and Alain Desforges. 30. died at the scene, said Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Al Crocker.
No injuries were reported among the 80 train passengers, although the train, which was travel ling to Montreal from Ottawa, was held at the accident scene for about four hours.
According to Crocker, the officers were driving west on St Isidore Street about 3:15 p.m. and attempted to cross the tracks when their cruiser was hit. Jean, a probationary' police officer, was driving.
Witnesses told police investigators the cruiser's emergency lights were flashing at the time of the accident. Crocker said police have yet to determine whether the officers were responding to a call.
Desforges. a native of Cornwall, had been with the OPP for four years. He was married and the father of a three-year-old son, Sebastian. He and his wife, Guylaine, 30, celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary last week.
Jean, a native of Windsor, Ont, joined the force in March.
The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.
With files from Canadian Press. Windsor Star
Ottawa Citizen 26 October 1993
Constables' destination unknown before fatal train crash
No one knows yet where Constables Richard Jean and Alain Desforges were heading when their patrol car was caught and crushed in the path of a Via Rail train.
With about two hours left in their shift Sunday afternoon, something made Jean, 23, and Desforges, 30, proceed westbound across the tracks on St-Isidore Street in the middle of Casselman, 60 kilometres east of Ottawa, although red warning lights were flashing.
The Montreal-bound train mangled the cruiser into scrap metal after dragging it half a kilometre. Desforges and Jean were killed instantly.
None of the 80 passengers on the train reported injuries.
At first, some of the many witnesses told investigators that the police cruiser's emergency lights had been flashing.
But Monday, OPP Sgt. Al Crocker said other witnesses say the lights were not on.
"We have conflicting stories and we don't know one way or the other which it is." said Crocker.
"We know their vehicle had not stalled, they were proceeding through the tracks."
Jean, a recruit who joined the force seven months ago, was driving with his training officer, Desforges, who had been with the detachment for four years.
Crocker said it is not unusual that the men did not notify dispatchers if they were initiating a call.
"If they were going on a routine traffic inspection, they would not necessarily call it in," said Crocker.
"They would not notify anyone unless it was something unusual."
As OPP investigators search for answers, they must also deal with their grief.
"When you investigate the death of your peers, it is very difficult not to think about someone you worked with day in and day out."
Their deaths brings to seven the number of police officers in Canada killed while on duty in the last three weeks.
Ottawa Citizen 27 October 1993
No evidence of emergency in fatal crash
Investigators have found no evidence to suggest two provincial police officers were nulling to an emergency call when their patrol car crossed in the path of a VIA rail train Sunday, killing them.
OPP Sgt. Al Crocker said Const. Richard Jean, 23, and Alain Dcsforges. 30. had been doing paper work at Ihe Casselman OPP station just 20 minutes before the afternoon crash. Crocker said the men told no one at the station they had an emergency call. He said they were heading out for routine patrol.
Jean, w ho was driving, headed west on St Isadore Street and. though warning lights were flashing at the rail crossing, the patrol car failed to stop. The Montreal passenger train crushed the cruiser.
Investigators have sent the cruiser's emergency light filaments to Toronto for testing in a final attempt to discern whether the cars emergency lights were on.
Ottawa Citizen 28 October 1993
Father mourns unexplained death of police officer son
WINDSOR Raymond Jean had concerns about his son's new job as an Ontario Provincial Police officer, but what happened to Const. Richard Jean Sunday was not a scenario his father had considered.
"I always worried some day he would get caught in a shootout. But not something like this" the elder Jean said this week.
Richard Jean was killed Sunday when the OPP cruiser he was driving was struck by a VIA Rail train at a level crossing in Casselman, 50 kilometres east of Ottawa, where he'd been posted since July.
The crossing's flashing warning lights were operating. Const. Alain Desforges, riding with Jean as his training officer, also was killed.
The accident is being investigated, but police are no closer to having answers than they were when it first happened.
"They don't really understand it themselves," Jean said.
But the family has been told the sun bright that day, might have been a factor in obscuring the lights at the railway crossing. As well, a building adjacent to the railroad tracks could have blocked Jean's view of the oncoming train.
Investigators are also trying to determine where the officers were going. They've found no evidence to suggest they were on an emergency call. The cruiser's emergency light filaments have been sent to Toronto for testing in a final attempt to find whether the lights were on.
Jean, 23, who grew up in Windsor, graduated as an OPP officer in July, completing a journey he'd mapped out long ago.
His father said police work was something his son always wanted to do. "He wanted to work with people and help kids."
Jean was accepted by the RCMP shortly after graduating from high school, but his parents encouraged him to put his dream on hold for a short time and get a post-secondary degree to fall back on.
He received a degree in sociology and had begun studies in criminology when the OPP called.
"He had a great sense of humor," Raymond said. "He had friends from all over."
Two weeks ago, Jean returned to Windsor for a visit. It was the last time his parents and three brothers would see him. "It was like having four little kids in the house again," Raymond said.
A full police funeral service for Jean was to be held today in Windsor. Officers from across the country, including those from Jean's graduating class and the Casselman OPP detachment, were to attend.
The Windsor Star
Ottawa Citizen 25 November 1993
Casselman to vote on railway crossing
CN Rail is proposing crossing barriers at an intersection in Casselman where two police officers were killed in an October train crash.
Village clerk Gilles Lortie said the plan calls for barriers at St. Isidore Street and Dollard Street. A third barrier at Cartier Street or the possible closure of the road is also being studied. The village will vote on the matter by Dec. 6. Investigators still aren't able to say what caused the baffling accident.
On a dry Sunday, Oct. 24, in the afternoon, Ontario Provincial Police constables Richard Jean, 23, and Alain Desforges, 30, died when their cruiser crossed ihto the path of an oncoming train.