‘He had a huge heart… he gave everything’ Family, friends, colleagues grieving loss of 42-year-old father, RM councillor, HSC worker, volunteer firefighter, coach killed in vehicle collision with train

A 42-year-old father and councillor killed in a collision involving a vehicle and train in southeastern Manitoba is being remembered for his dedication to family and community.

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A 42-year-old father and councillor killed in a collision involving a vehicle and train in southeastern Manitoba is being remembered for his dedication to family and community.

Family, friends and residents could count on Brent Wery — a Health Sciences Centre employee, volunteer firefighter and Rural Municipality of Ste. Anne council member — for help with anything, said his twin brother Brad.

“Brent was always the first to step up. At the end of the day, he would give the shirt off his back, if needed,” Brad wrote in an email Tuesday. “Nothing was more important to him than his family. We all know this and that’s why his passing is so hard.”

The lifelong Richer resident had a five-month-old son and two daughters.

“His passing has been so extremely hard on his entire family,” his brother wrote. “We’re still in disbelief. He was a really big part of our family and there’s no way the void his passing has created could ever be filled. We miss him so much.”

Multiple communities are in mourning after Wery died in a collision at a CN Rail crossing in the Rural Municipality of La Broquerie Sunday at about 6 p.m.

He was driving east on Road 33 North at Twin River Road when his vehicle collided with a northbound train, according to RCMP, who believe slippery conditions were a factor.

Wery, the lone occupant, was thrown from his vehicle, police said.

The crossing, about 60 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg, is marked with railway crossing and stop signs, said spokeswoman Cpl. Julie Courchaine.

Investigators are trying to determine if Wery was wearing a seatbelt, she said.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is gathering information about the collision, said spokesman Chris Krepski.

CN Rail declined to comment on the circumstances.

RM of La Broquerie Reeve Ivan Normandeau said he cannot recall any other serious crashes at the same crossing.

While the community rallied around his family, Brad Wery reflected on the special bond he had with his twin brother.

“As kids, we did all the same things any brothers would do, we had each others backs, we laughed, we fought, and we made a lot of the same memories,” he wrote. “We were the most opposite that brothers could be. Brent inherited all the charisma, charm, humour, and wit.

“He had the ability to make friends with anyone — he had a lot of friends. He could strike up a conversation with anyone which made him super easy to talk to.”

Wery had worked at HSC as a charge medical radiological technologist since 2002, according to campaign literature from his successful run for a second term as the Ward 3 councillor in the RM of Ste. Anne in October.

“A member of our team for over 20 years, Brent was a kind and compassionate co-worker who was always willing to lend a hand, Suzanne Zdanuk, the director of diagnostic imaging acute care operations at HSC and St. Boniface and Grace hospitals, said in a statement.

“His passing is a tremendous loss for everyone who had the pleasure of working with him and for the many patients he interacted with throughout his career.”

Positive and charismatic, Wery had been a member of the Richer Fire Department for almost 19 years, reaching the rank of captain, said friend and deputy fire chief David Reith.

“It’s unfortunate that the good ones get taken when they shouldn’t,” said Reith. “He was one of the good ones. He had a huge heart. He gave everything, and he always put everybody before himself.”

If there was a volunteer organization in his community, there was a good chance Wery had devoted some of his time and energy to it, according to family and friends.

Over the years, he served as a board member or volunteer with several community or recreation groups.

He coached minor hockey and represented Eastman on Hockey Manitoba’s female council.

As a firefighter, he was a member of the Manitoba-based heavy urban search and rescue team Canada Task Force 4.

Community members are discussing ways to honour Wery and his contributions.

“Pretty much everybody wants to do something. He touched a lot of people,” said Reith. “He’s one of our brothers that we can’t replace. He’s going to be deeply missed.”

The number of fatalities at rail crossings in Manitoba has dropped in recent years, according to TSB data published on the Operation Lifesaver website.

A total of 13 crossing “incidents” and zero deaths were reported in 2022.

In 2021, there was one fatality in 16 incidents. The TSB reported 22 incidents and five deaths in 2020.

About 23 people are killed and 28 seriously injured at crossings in Canada each year, according to the TSB.

In 2021, the agency began investigating why the rate of crossing “accidents” involving vehicles is higher in the winter months.

According to an analysis of non-vacation months between 2007 and 2017, there were 0.616 “accidents” per billion vehicle kilometres travelled in January and February, compared with 0.382 in May, June and September.

A final report will contain findings and potential recommendations to improve safety.


Twitter: @chriskitching

Chris Kitching

As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.

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