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  Jonathan Hambler, 29, says he sobered up quickly as he realized the train he had hopped on was speeding up. (CBC)

Published: December 17th 2009
Source: CBC
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'Don't ever think of doing it'

A man whose intoxicated illegal railway ride on a frigid winter night almost killed him has advice for anyone tempted to hitch a short ride on a train.

"Don't ever think of doing it, even in the summer," said Jonathan Hambler. "You don't know what's going to happen. I thought it was just was going to be five blocks, and it ended up just about my life."

Hambler, 29, was charged with trespassing by CP Rail police after the incident.

It began last Friday at about 3:45 a.m. in Wetaskiwin, south of Edmonton, after he walked with a friend who had had too much to drink, seeing the friend home, Hambler said.

"I was going to back where we started originally, and I seen the train slowly going by and I thought I could save myself five blocks … but I added on quite a few klicks."

Hambler said he'd had a few drinks himself, but sobered up quickly when the train began speeding up and left Wetaskiwin.

'I wanted to jump'

"I wanted to jump and what everything, but we're doing about 30 [kilometres an hour] so it wouldn't have been a very good idea."

At that point, Hambler says, he called his girlfriend to explain the situation.
'This is when I was realizing, yeah it's pretty bad ... and to top it off, my phone started beeping and dying.'
—Jonathan Hambler

"I thought I was going to be OK, it was going to slow down at the next stop and I could jump off and I'd have to find a ride back."

When that didn't happen, he called 911 and described his predicament to a skeptical emergency operator who was convinced by the sound of the train as it rumbled along, Hambler said.

She urged him to do everything he could to stay warm, and started an RCMP search into which train Hambler had hopped.

"This is when I was realizing, yeah it's pretty bad," Hambler said. "And to top it off, my phone started beeping and dying."

The cellphone lasted long enough for RCMP to identify the train, by radioing the crews of the two they had narrowed the search to and having them sound their horns.

Once the train was stopped at a crossing, searchers had to walk through snowdrifts along the tracks before finding Hambler, barely conscious, on the grating between two cars.

Hambler said he suffered hypothermia, but not frostbite. He said he will pay the $287 fine for trespassing.

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