Name: Arnaud Deloup
Species: Grey wolf
Age: About 56
Voice: Dennis Quaid (https://youtu.be/v7_PcVaUk7w), with a slight French accent
Eye color: Dark intermediate blue
Love interest: None
Friends: Vivica Wilde; Open
Personality: In the years before the Lac-Élan disaster, he was a hard worker, careful, patient, safety-conscious, helpful, responsible, reliable, sociable, had a good sense of humor, was a good communicator, and he loved his job, as well as being around trains. Now, he's quiet and reserved, not really saying much to anyone when he's out in public. He has trouble sleeping at night, as he sometimes has nightmares about the disaster. He also suffers from anxiety and depression. As well, he's a bit scared of trains, and doesn't go anywhere near them. The only thing that hasn't changed about him is his sense of humor.
History: He was born in Howlberta, Canida, and lived with his father in a house next to a busy railroad mainline. No matter what time of day or night, Arnaud loved the sound of a train going by, as well as watching them from his bedroom window.
His father, even though he wasn't really into trains, sometimes took him to train museums. At one museum, little Arnaud got to go in the cab of a steam engine, and the engineer even let him blow the whistle; his father had never seen a bigger smile on his son's face.
Years later, after Arnaud graduated from high school, he started looking for a job, and was hired by Canida Rail Link. After months of training and tests, he became a conductor. As conductor, his responsibilities were reviewing schedules and shipping records, ensuring that cargo and weight was evenly distributed along the train, as well as maintaining communication with the engineer, rail control personnel, and other crew members. After a few years, Arnaud was promoted to engineer.
Early in the day of July 5, 2013, Canida Rail Link freight train CR-4 left the Côte Saint-Loup railyard with 72 tank cars of crude oil, each carrying 30,000 gallons. At the front of the train was Z30-7 (https://en.wikipedia.org/
Later in the day, CR-4 stopped at the railyard in Howell for a crew change. Arnaud was the engineer and only crew member for this leg of the trip. He boarded 2803 after the previous crew had left, and after receiving the schedule and details for this run. Hand on the throttle, he eased the train out of Howell Yard and onto the mainline, and throttled up.
At around 10:50 pm, Arnaud stopped at the CRL crew change point in Meadowville, about 7 miles west of Lac-Élan, a town with a population of about 6,000. He parked the train out on the main line rather than the adjacent siding (https://en.wikipedia.org/
Arnaud shut down the locomotives but left 2803 running to keep air pressure supplied to the train's air brakes, and applied the hand brakes on the caboose and other locomotives, as well as the boxcar. He then attempted a brake test but incorrectly left the air brakes on; this gave him the false impression that the hand brakes alone could hold the train.
Arnaud contacted the rail traffic controller in Meadowville to advise them that the train was secure. Next he contacted the controller in Fangor, reporting that 2803 was having mechanical problems and that thick black smoke was coming from the exhaust stack. Expecting the smoke to settle, they agreed to deal with the situation the following morning. After finishing his work, Arnaud left by taxi for a hotel in Lac-Élan. The locomotive's engine had been spitting oil, so before going to sleep, he showered to wash the oil out of his fur.
At about 11:45 pm mammals driving on the road next to the track started to notice the locomotive in distress. Thick black smoke and sparks were coming from 2803's exhaust. Five minutes later, the Meadowville Fire Department, as well as a police officer from Lac-Élan, responded to a call from a citizen about a fire on the first locomotive. After arriving, the firefighters shut down the engine, extinguished the fire, and notified the CRL rail traffic controller in Meadowville. The railroad didn't grant Arnaud permission to return to the scene, instead calling in a track maintenance supervisor who was unfamiliar with the operation of air brakes. By 12:13 am, two track maintenance workers arrived from Lac-Élan. The firefighters left as the workers confirmed to the police officer and the rail traffic controller that the train was safe. Then the two workers returned to town.
Actual photo of the locomotive before the fire department was called:
With 2803's engine shut down, the air compressor could no longer supply air to the brake system. Air naturally began to leak from the system, depleting the air reservoirs and reducing the effectiveness of the train's air brakes. By 12:56 am, the air pressure in the system had dropped so low that the combination of hand brakes and air brakes could no longer hold the train, and it slowly started rolling down the 1.2% grade, 7 miles toward Lac-Élan, picking up speed. The track was not equipped with track circuits (https://en.wikipedia.org/
At 1:14 am, the train barreled into town at 65 mph, on a curve in an area with a speed limit of 10 mph, no headlights, sparks and white smoke coming from the wheels. At a railroad switch near a crossing by the town's main street, one of the tank cars jumped the track, derailing the other cars, rupturing them and spilling more than 2 million gallons of crude oil, which ignited after one of the cars hit a propane tank near the tracks; several of the cars exploded as they piled up and hit the others.
Citizens on the terrace of a bar near the crossing fled to escape the burning oil. Employees and customers inside the bar felt the trembling, went outside and ran, thinking it was an earthquake. Some stayed inside and hid under tables. Not all that went outside survived; some of them weren't able to outrun the "tsunami of fire". Others jumped from the third floor of buildings in the central business district to escape the fire, the heat of which could be felt over a mile away. As it flowed over the ground, the burning crude oil flowed into Lac-Élan's storm sewer system, emerging as huge fires towering from storm drains, sewer holes, even chimneys and basements in the area.
Arnaud was woken up by the explosions, and could see the fire and destruction from his hotel window.
Around 150 firefighters were dispatched to the scene. Some of them described it as looking like a war zone. Flames were 200 feet high, train cars were burning (some were still exploding), multiple buildings were on fire, parked cars were burning in the street, a few citizens were running for their lives. By the early afternoon of July 6, the fire was contained and prevented from spreading further. Later, after the massive fire was finally out and the search for survivors was over, the toll of the disaster became apparent. 42 confirmed dead, along with 5 missing and presumed dead. More than 30 buildings, about half the downtown area, were destroyed, and all but three of the remaining 39 downtown buildings later had to be demolished due to petroleum contamination.
The locomotives and VB car were found intact about half a mile down the tracks from the derailment. The last nine tank cars were still on the track, and had not derailed; they were pulled away from the site. Those that had derailed were damaged beyond repair.
In May 2014, the railroad (which had filed for bankruptcy in August 2013) was charged with 47 counts of criminal negligence. Arnaud, the rail traffic controller, and the manager of train operations were arrested and brought to court.
The investigation into the cause of the derailment found that only 7 brakes had been applied on the train; the railroad's guidelines indicated that at least 9 should be set when parked on level track, and more when on an incline. The hand brakes on the 72 tank cars had not been applied.
The lead locomotive, 2803, was found to have a history of mechanical problems, but the railroad kept it in service anyway because of the time and cost of replacing the engine, and the pressure to return it to service. Repair work done on the locomotive had been cheap and lazy, having been done with materials not up to the task, allowing oil to collect in the engine's turbocharger and resulting in the fires and heavy smoke.
Much of Lac-Élan was left in ruins, but the town's mayor said "We will rebuild."
In October 2017, Arnaud and the other two railroad employees were charged with 47 counts of criminal negligence resulting in death, and faced life in prison if convicted. In January 2018, Arnaud and the employees were acquitted, after nine days of deliberations. He was relieved that he had been acquitted, but memories of the disaster still haunted him.
A few months after the hearing, he sat on a bench in the park in Zootopia (he had recently moved to the city), trying to take his mind off any thoughts and memories of that horrible night, but not having much luck. Arnaud still couldn't believe so many had died because of his train. Even after being acquitted, he still felt responsible for their deaths.
A fox in the park noticed him and walked over, sensing something was wrong. She started a conversation, and the two talked for a bit; Arnaud was a bit emotional when he brought up the derailment. The fox comforted him, and the two have been friends ever since.
Relation to Zootopia: He is friends with Nick's mother.
*Based on Tom Harding, the engineer of MMA-2, the train involved in the 2013 Lac-Mégantic derailment. Except for the events of the derailment, investigation, and court drama, his life has been fictionalized. More info about the actual wreck can be found at these links, or by Google and YouTube searching "lac-mégantic rail disaster":
*The logo on the back of his safety vest is based on that of the BNSF Railway.
*The railroad's name is based on Montana Rail Link.
Base is from some sketches by Borja Montoro, freelance character designer for Disney; they can be found here: