Details of the Accident
The Canadian National (CN) Railway's westbound train number 413 left Edson at 6:40 a.m., and took the siding at Medicine Lodge to allow 2 eastbound trains to pass. It departed Medicine Lodge at 8:02 a.m. and reached Hargwen at 8:20 a.m., where a section of double track started. The remote dispatcher at Edmonton had set the switch so that the train was routed onto the north track. At the same time VIA Rail's number 4 train - the combined Super Continental and Skeena - stopped at Hinton. It left on time, 5 minutes later, at 8:25 a.m.

At 8:29 a.m., the dispatcher set the switch at Dalehurst, where the section of double track ended, to allow the Super Continental to take the south track. This switch setting would have caused the freight train to see signals indicating a stop. A 2-light signal 13,600 feet (4.15 kilometres) east of Dalehurst showed yellow over red (meaning prepare to stop at the next signal). As the train approached this signal, it was already going full throttle at 59 miles per hour (96 kilometres per hour), faster than the 50 mile per hour limit on this stretch of track. It did not slow down after passing the signal.

Further west, there was a 3-light signal, 490 feet (150 meters) east of the switch at Dalehurst that showed 3 solid red lamps, indicating a stop. The freight still did not slow down, instead jumping the switch and entering the section of single track occupied by the Super Continental. Had the Super Continental been even a minute early, it would have been past the switch at this point, but it was not. Seconds after the freight jumped the switch, at 8:40:52 a.m., the 2 trains collided 1,270 feet (387 meters) west of the switch.