Days after a man’s body was found on the BNSF tracks on White Rock’s waterfront Friday morning, the BC Coroners Service continues to investigate cause of death.
The man, described as being around age 40, was found near the end of the West Beach Promenade south of Bay Street at 10:30 a.m., Coroners Service spokesperson Barb McLintock told Peace Arch News Monday.
While an initial release from police Friday stated that “trauma to the body is consistent with this individual being struck by a train,” McLintock would only confirm that the man had suffered “clearly traumatic injuries.”
“We’re still trying to figure out what happened,” she said. “We’ll be cautious until we know what happened to this fellow.”
White Rock resident Jessica Rodgers told PAN Monday that her family had been informed by police that the body was identified as her brother, Greg Cairns, 39.
“I’m in shock,” she said, adding it was still for the Coroners Service to determine whether her brother had died by being hit by a train.
“This is very close to home for me in every way,” said Rodgers, who lives at Oxford Street and Marine Drive.
Rodgers said she had been estranged from Cairns for “a couple of years,” but believes he lived either in Cloverdale or Langley, although she understood he had found construction employment in the White Rock area.
Cairns was unmarried and had no children, she said. In addition to herself, he is survived by a younger brother, their mother, and aunts and uncles she said, adding that Cairns was predeceased by a sister.
Rodgers said she had become estranged from her brother due to his “criminal activity and undesirable lifestyle,” but said he was nonetheless “very much loved by his siblings – it’s a great loss to his family.”
“He had a tough go of it – life was not easy for him,” she said.
It was out of character for her brother to be walking down by the tracks, she said.
“Not like me – I’m down there every day.”
And while Rodgers said it’s still a matter of conjecture how her brother died, she believes that rail safety on the waterfront needs to be increased – either by moving the tracks or closing off all access to the beach.
“Maybe the $30 million the city is going to spend upgrading the waterfront would be better spent doing that,” she said.
She noted comments from some readers of PAN’s first online story Friday who suggested the onus for safety around the rail lines is on pedestrians.
“People have opinions about that, but I know that, when you’re down there, you don’t feel (a train) or hear it until it’s on you. The speed they’re travelling, it’s just a hiss on the rail.”
At White Rock council Monday night, both Mayor Wayne Baldwin and Coun. Grant Meyer said they continue to pursue rail relocation – including meeting recently with BC transportation minister Todd Stone and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner in which potential provincial funding for track relocation work was explored.
“I believe we’re going to get assistance (from the province) on funding, for preliminary work,” Baldwin said.
“That won’t be for the billions of dollars it’s said (the project) is going to cost – although it won’t be that much.”