He never made it back to the room.
Barry Diggins died Nov. 27 when he was pinned under a toppled ballast car at the railway tracks east of Rouge Hill GO Station. The Sault Ste. Marie native was a contracted worker for the transit agency Metrolinx.
He was 41 years old.
“It was the worst feeling,” said Amanda, speaking with SooToday Monday. “You know what type of line of work that is, but you just never think that it’s going to happen to you.”
Amanda ended up learning of her husband’s death the next morning through his coworkers who were lodged at the same motel. The tragic news was later confirmed by police.
She stayed down in southern Ontario for a couple of days, not wanting to leave her husband behind.
“I was lost. I didn’t know what to do,” said Amanda. “I ended up telling my children over video chat. That was hard.”
Their children, Brycen and Gabriella, were among the first ones to greet their mother when she returned to the Sault.
“I came in, and the kids made a sign saying ‘I love you’ with pictures of me and Barry, the kids and Barry. I had a bunch of family waiting for me to come home,” Amanda said.
Barry was known throughout the community as a hard worker, having worked on a number of roofing jobs locally. He was also notorious for messing with people - his wife included - and pulling pranks.
But Amanda says that lending a ‘helping hand’ was also very much in Barry's nature. He went to school in order to become a personal support worker before working at Extendicare Van Daele and F.J. Davey Home.
“He always wanted to help the elderly,” she said. “He gets along with elderly people, and he has the heart for it.”
But Barry was drawn to work on the railway, a job that took him around the province.
Amanda recalls trips the family would take to southern Ontario when Barry was working down there and all the family photos that he would shoot on his phone.
His wife is grateful for the support of Barry’s fellow rail workers. One of Barry’s coworkers set up a GoFundMe page following his death.
The fundraising campaign has raised nearly $60,000 as of Monday.
“I had no words. I still have no words. I can’t get over how much generosity is out there,” she said.
Amanda says that she clicked with her late husband from day one. They had been inseparable ever since.
They each have half of a heart tattooed on their hand with the words ‘we got this’ above it, which they got in honour of their 10th wedding anniversary.
“I’ll never see it full again,” Amanda said.