Chilliwack train victim ‘great human being’ according to boss

The carved memorial already up near the railroad tracks on Eagle Landing Parkway reads, RIP Lee, after tragic death Sunday morning

A young man killed by a train in Chilliwack Sunday

A young man killed by a train in Chilliwack Sunday

A Chilliwack man killed by a train Sunday morning while wearing earbuds was “one of the good ones,” according to his employer.

The fatal incident was reported at 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning, after a man was struck by a westbound train, near the Eagle Landing crossing at Deans Avenue.

The collision shut down traffic, with RCMP, BC Coroners, CN Police, B.C. Ambulance Service and Chilliwack Fire Department on scene.

“They just take the good ones,” said Mike Andries of Precise Roofing, about the loss of his trusted employee, Lee Austin, 28.

“I am truly heartbroken.”

Austin, a roofer and dedicated family man was remembered by Andries as being “witty, charismatic, respectful, and loyal.”

Andries said he took a chance and hired Austin in 2012, to work for his small roofing company, after he’d moved to Chilliwack to be with his expectant girlfriend.

He was aware that the young man had a bit of a troubled past with gangs and drugs.

“But I saw something in him and took him under my wing,” he said. “(He was) the best employee a guy could ever ask for.”

Austin turned his life around, and recently went into the smokehouse program to train to become a traditional dancer, as well as becoming a licensed roofer.

“It’s mind-boggling that he’s gone. I just wanted it known. He was there for me. He was one of the best metal roofers around. It’s so sad. He was so special.”

They’d only been out to lunch together just the day before in Rosedale after working on a leaky roof.

“He was my guy. Lee was such a success story that turned completely tragic,” Andries told the Progress.

Hearing that he may have been wearing earbuds was not a surprise.

“He loved music and he loved those earbuds.”

He liked to run, and he enjoyed jumping in the river, even in winter.

But forget all the stereotypes you hear about train victims, he said.

“He just made a huge mistake.”

Andries is convinced the incident was in no way intentional.

“He did not even drink alcohol because he knew how much it hurt native families,” Andries said.

He had nothing but praise for his employee.

“My point is that he was not in any way shape or form a regular guy. He was great human being.”

A memorial was erected by the accident site on Monday, some photos of it, tagged with “R.I.P. Lee” were posted on the roofing company’s social media page.