|Tweets by @TCRC660|
|CN worker was dedicated to helping people with disabilities|
July 15th 2011 | Source: Toronto Star | Printer friendly
Rick McColl was a man who
dedicated much of his life to helping people with disabilities,
with his eldest son as an inspiration.
The Hampton, Ont. man’s life was cut short when he was killed on the job — as a CN Rail engineering maintenance worker — on Thursday in Pickering. He was 53 years old.
Linda Harrigan, McColl’s sister-in-law, said he dedicated every frigid Sunday in January and February to helping people with disabilities learn to ski. He gave the lessons on a volunteer basis for about ten to twelve years in Brimacombe at the Oshawa Ski Club.
“He helped children and adults — anyone with any kind of disability who wanted to try skiing,” Harrigan said.
McColl’s 21-year-old son has cerebral palsy, and that was part of what got him inspired to help those who needed it. The whole family started skiing, and McColl became involved with the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing. He encouraged friends to get involved and take courses so they could help out, too.
He learned to use a special kind of ski for those who can’t use both feet to show people with disabilities that they, too, could ski. He devoted time to fundraising as well — “sit-skis,” or monoskis, are expensive pieces of equipment.
Harrigan recounted a tale of McColl skiing with Lieutenant-Governor David Onley about three years ago. Onley, who lives with polio and acts as a disabilities advocate, was visiting the club where McColl taught.
“He came out with his entourage and Rick gave him a lesson,” Harrigan said, proud of her brother-in-law.
McColl showed his love for the outdoors in other ways as well, and shared that love with his family. He built a log cabin at Bancroft about eighteen years ago, where they would spend weekends and vacations. He also refinished a small sailboat, which he would sail on the lake at the cottage and with friends on Lake Ontario. He also enjoyed taking long-distance bike trips.
“He loved woodworking, loved making things. Just everything. He was such a great dad to his kids,” Harrigan said, her voice shaking a bit. “He really inspired them both to be the best that they could be.”
McColl died Thursday around 1:15 p.m. while he was working near the tracks in Pickering as an engineering maintenance worker. He was hit by a Via Rail train about five kilometres east of Guildwood Station, which serves both GO Train and Via Rail.
The accident came down to a miscommunication, said inspector Dave Saliba from Durham Regional Police. Two men were doing work on the tracks during a 15- to 20-minute period when no trains were supposed to pass by, but the Via train passed through during that period. The other worker ran north and was uninjured, and that was when McColl, running south, was struck.
McColl had worked for CN for 32 years.
The family still doesn’t know when the funeral will be, as police continue to investigate his death.