A soldier with the Canadian Forces is being hailed as a hero after he helped free a tractor trailer that was stuck at a railway crossing, saving it from being struck by an oncoming GO train, but Rushad Bharda thinks he was “just being a good person.”
Bharda, 21, was on his way to visit his girlfriend in Oakville when the incident happened Tuesday afternoon.
Bharda is from Mississauga and is a member of the Governor General’s Horse Guards, a reserve regiment based in Toronto. He was approaching the railway crossing on Kerr Street just north of Speers Road in Oakville when he noticed an 18-wheel tractor trailer up ahead.
Bharda saw the truck slowly beginning to cross the tracks when the barrier came down and got stuck right between the tractor trailer’s cab and exhaust pipe.
Rail crossing safety is currently the focus of an educational campaign by Metrolinx called ‘Killer View.’ (Lorenda Reddekopp/CBC)
“Immediately, I noticed something was wrong,” Bharda told CBC Toronto.
“I pulled over, got out of my car and started sprinting towards this guy”
The cab of the truck was so high that Bharda thinks the driver didn’t realize the barrier was stuck. The driver began repeatedly moving forward and then reversing in an attempt to free the tractor trailer.
This movement made the arm snap off its pole and the weight of it prevented the truck from moving.
In the span of around 30 seconds, Bharda said he grabbed the barrier from behind the truck’s cab and hurled it to the side of the road, giving the driver just enough time to clear the tracks.
“The train had slammed on its brakes and it was about 20 metres, maybe closer, to the truck,” said Bharda.
‘I felt like I had an obligation’
A witness, waiting a few cars behind Bharda in a line of about 40 vehicles, says he saw the soldier run towards the tracks to help.
“I thought it was just too dangerous at the time but clearly he didn’t think so,” said the witness, who didn’t want to be identified.
“He just pulled over and he just started running towards it. I think that was really heroic.”
But Bharda, humbled by the cheers and handshakes he got from those who saw the rescue unfold, feels otherwise.
Google streetview of the tracks along Kerr Street, just north of Speers Road in Oakville. (Google Maps)
“I don’t think my actions today were heroic, I don’t think they were anything but just being a good Canadian, being a good person.”
He credits his military training and his upbringing.
“When we see danger we don’t run from it, we run towards it,” said Bharda of his work in the army. .
“From a very young age we [were] taught to go and help people. I felt like I had an obligation.”
Metrolinx educating drivers on rail safety
Metrolinx was alerted to the incident and sent crews to fix the barrier shortly after. According to spokesperson Anne-Marie Aikins, there were no major delays.
She doesn’t consider the incident a close call but wants to thank Bharda and use this as an opportunity to remind people of what they need to do to stay safe at rail crossings.
“Trains can come at any time and it can take up to two kilometres for a train to stop even under full emergency braking,” Aikins said.
“The human eye can’t really judge how fast it’s coming at you. It comes much faster at you than you think,” she told CBC Toronto.
She says in this case the driver could be charged because it’s illegal to fail to stop at a level crossing.
Metrolinx is currently running an educational campaign called Killer View that reminds drivers to always use caution when driving over train tracks.