'Nobody seems to be giving any answers': Questions linger for family of CN Rail employee who died 1 year ago
Karamjit Singh struggles daily with the loss of his son, and the lack of information he’s been given as to how and why he died.
“It’s tough,” he told CTV News Vancouver. “Nobody seems to be giving any answers.”
Singh was in Cambodia when his ex-wife called to tell him his son, Jasvinder Riar, died while at work for CN Rail. It happened on June 1, 2020. But what exactly lead to his death is still a mystery to the family.
“It’s been over a year now,” said Singh. “When I call the coroners, they say, 'Oh we are still waiting for CN report.' When I call CN, CN say, 'Oh we are still waiting for coroners.'"
All he’s been told by the BC Coroners' Service is that Riar suffered a blunt force injury to the chest.
Riar worked as a conductor and was also a new father at the time of his death. He had a son of his own, just nine-months-old.
“To lose the only son, it’s tough. I just need answers what happened to him, what happened to him on that day," Singh said.
He told CTV News the day his son died, he was not supposed to be working.
“His friend say, 'Oh Jas can you switch shifts with me?’ ‘Yeah OK, no problem.’ And he never came back,” said Singh. He said it’s been extremely hard on the colleague who switched shifts.
JD Singh, Riar’s uncle, described his nephew was a “perfect and loving” kid.
“It is an agony, (Singh’s) heart is breaking all the time that I come to see him,” he said. “We want to know what happened, really what happened.”
In an emailed statement, the BC Coroners Service said the case remains open, and that while its investigations are independent, "we make efforts to share relevant information with impacted agencies when our authority allows us to."
"Our work can be impacted by any number of internal and external factors, so we do not provide definitive timelines for when this (or any) particular investigation will be completed," it said.
CTV News also reached out to CN Rail, which said it could not comment on the ongoing investigation.
“Safety is a core value at CN and we investigate all injuries and fatalities and fully cooperate with investigations by regulatory agencies," the company said in a statement. "Our thoughts and sympathies are with the friends and family of our late colleague Jasvinder Singh Riar.”
“Why (have) CN employees been briefed on what happened on that day and none of the family members know about this? I never got an answer back from CN,” said Singh.
The Transportation Safety Board's initially reported that the incident occurred while “switching operators” shortly before 2 a.m. When contacted again, the TSB told CTV News it had concluded its investigation.
Singh said even the insurance companies are looking for answers.
“They keep sending me a letter saying we are still waiting for coroners report, we are still waiting for CN’s report,” said Singh.
He described his son as “the soul of the party” who had a smile that would light up the room.
“Very street smart, he loved his family, he loved his grandma, he loved his mom, his sister, his siblings,” said Singh.
And the grieving father believes he’s not the only parent or family member in this position; that there are others also waiting for reports and closure on their family members.
“There’s few other accidents that have happened at CN rail, and I think CN rail should be upfront with what happened to not only my son, but there’s a lot of kids who is gone. And I think every family member needs to know what happened,” said Singh.
“CN just cannot leave things hanging as another statistic. No it’s not, that’s my son.”