Edmonton custodian pushed onto LRT train tracks had 30 seconds to escape

On the August long weekend in 2019, Gage Cardinal had almost the entire MacEwan LRT platform to himself.

The 19-year-old was smoking a glass pipe when a janitor approached him and told him to stop. 

Cardinal, who admits he has problems with addiction and anger, got into a fight with 59-year-old Ahmed Hassan. 

He threw the older man onto the LRT tracks and left the platform. 

Hassan landed directly on the tracks, his head hitting the rail and his hip broken. 

Despite his injuries, Hassan managed to climb four feet back onto the platform. Thirty seconds later, an LRT train hurtled into the station. 

Hassan had to undergo surgery. His injuries will have a permanent impact and it’s likely he may require further surgery if his condition degenerates with age. 

The entire incident was captured on surveillance video. Cardinal was charged with aggravated assault and in August he entered a guilty plea. 

At the time, Cardinal’s lawyer, Angus Boyd, told the court, “He doesn’t understand why he lashed out, but he regrets that he did.” 

The Crown asked for a sentence of two to three years in addition to the time Cardinal has been in custody. 

The defence suggested two years less a day, minus time in custody with another two or three years of probation. 

On Thursday, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Peter Michalyshyn said the unprovoked nature of the attack on Hassan was an aggravating factor. 

An injured custodian had 30 seconds to climb off the tracks at MacEwan LRT Station to avoid being hit by an incoming train. (CBC)

“He was an entirely innocent and random person who was doing his job as a custodian or janitor at the LRT station,” Michalyshyn said. “He had to be there because that was his place of employment.” 

The judge called Hassan a vulnerable victim who suffered severe injuries and criticized Cardinal for fleeing the scene of the crime. 

“I find that Mr. Cardinal, had he been thinking about it at all, would have known a train was going to come down the tracks at some point,” Michalyshyn said. 

Sentence imposed 

Cardinal watched the sentencing hearing from a room at the Edmonton Remand Centre. 

He was unable to stay still as he paced back and forth in the small space wearing a mask and orange coveralls. The now 20-year-old was constantly fidgeting as he rocked from side to side, repeatedly raking his hands through his hair. 

Court was told that Cardinal had previously been granted bail, but it was revoked in February when he used meth and drank alcohol.

While he was free on bail, Cardinal’s father tried to get him into a rehabilitation program, but it appeared the accused was not motivated, Michalyshyn said.

Michalyshyn said he doesn’t know if Cardinal was using meth or was addicted to the drug at the time of the offence, but expressed hope for his eventual rehabilitation. 

Michalyshyn imposed a 30-month sentence minus 10 months credit for time already served. 

When Cardinal is released from jail, he’ll be on probation for two years. 

During the probation period, Cardinal will not be allowed to be on an LRT platform, but he will be permitted to ride on buses.

In a statement Thursday, the city called the incident serious and unfortunate and expressed hope the worker will make a full recovery.

It also said that “ETS takes a multi-layered approach to safety and has a number of measures in place, including surveillance cameras, patrols by transit peace officers, onsite contract security guards, and emergency help phones at transit centres and LRT stations.”   

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