|Ottawa Citizen 9 February 1931|
Three die when train hits auto at crossing.
Three well-known Ottawa men were killed and two others seriously injured then the car in which they were returning from the Fairmont Golf Club was struck by the C.P.R. Imperial Limited at the St. Hyacinthe street level crossing at Beemer Station in the northern part of Hull early Sunday morning.
The train was travelling slowly, but the impact was sufficient to deflect the speeding car from its course. It turned completely around and crashed into a post, hurling the five occupants to the ground.
Emergency brake was pulled back
Evidence of the train crew indicated the car was travelling at a fairly fast rate of speed and In another fraction of a second would have been safely across the track as the engine struck fairly in the rear of the auto.
Evidently, James Shedden, owner and driver of the car, caught a glimpse of the train In those awful moments before the terrible impact came, for inspection of the car wreckage after the crash showed the emergency brake had been pulled back so strongly that even the two great shocks of collision with the locomotive and post failed to release it.
"If the driver had been looking for the train he could have sighted it while he was still fifty feet from the track and while it was about a hundred and fifty yards to his left. The road leading up to the crossing had been worn smooth and slippery and there were no chains on the car to help to bring it to a stop. It is thought the driver slammed on his brakes as soon as he saw the train, and in a few terrifying seconds the car slid along the slippery highway to doom.
As the car crashed, spun around and hurtled into the post, Scharf 's body was hurled fifty feet to the platform of the Beemer station, the other side of the tracks. The others were all found within ten feet of the crash. The two survivors were found together, covered by the debris of the car, and within four feet of the spot where the collision occurred.
Open Inquest Today.
The train was stopped by Engineer Kelly within two coach lengths, and the injured rushed to Sacred Heart Hospital. An inquest was opened this morning by Coroner J. A. Isabelle.
Scharf, Tierney, Shedden and Warner were all employes of the Ottawa Car Garage. Casey, one of the survivors, had been working there until recently.
The funerals will all be held Tuesday, that of Tierney at 8.30 a.m., and those of Scharf and Shedden at 1.15 p.m. and 2 30 pjn. respectively, all from their late residences.
When those who were awakened by the crash donned a few clothes and rushed to the scene, the engine of the car was still running and the lights were still on.
According to the management of the Fairmont Club, the men had been there less than half an hour after arriving there just about midnight. Casey, interview in hospital, explained that the party had not been premeditated, but just organized late in the evening on the spur of the moment.
Warning Bell Support.
The car, which glanced from the train to plunge into a telephone post, finally ended its wild career resting against another post a few feet from the one it first struck. A peculiar irony exists in the fact that the post which marked the last resting place of the death car was the support for the warning bell which guards the crossing.
Norman Casey, now fighting for life. In Sacred Heart Hospital, admitted one or two of the men had a glass of beer, but was positive that no one in the car was drunk. He was half asleep In the back seat of the car and knew nothing of the danger until the crash came.
He could not say if the driver had seen the train or not. Examination of the car later gave rise to the belief that Shedden, the driver, had seen the train as the hand brake was pulled back to the limit.
Car Badly Smashed.
The car was badly smashed. The train struck just behind the driver's seat on the left side. The windshield was shattered, as were the left windows. The right windows were not even cracked. All the left side, back and top was torn away.
Warner and Casey, the survivors, were seated on the right seat of the car.
Returning from the Fairmont Golf Club, near Fairy Lake, the party proceeded from the clubhouse and followed the Mountain road in to St. Joseph Boulevard, then they went along the boulevard as far as Montclair street, which they followed to St. Redempteur. From St. Redempteur they turned down Levis street and proceeded to St. Hyacinthe
It was at the C.P.R. crossing on St. Hyacinthe street between Gamelin and St. Etienne streets where the crash occurred.
They were travelling west on St. Hyacinthe street, evidently with the object of reaching Bridge street and going along this to the Chaudlere bridge, as most of them lived in the western part of the city.
The CP.R. Imperial Limited was going north and approached them from the left side. The curve in the railroad track leading up to the crossing is slight and the party would have had an unobscured view of the track for three hundred yards had it not been for a small house on their left which reduced their field of vision to about one hundred yards. From a survey of the ground, it is apparent that the car could not have been more than fifty feet from the track when the driver saw the train, even if he noticed it as soon as it came into his range of vision.
Brake Pulled Back.
Evidently Shedden, the driver and owner of the car, saw the train, for examination after the accident showed that the emergency brake had been pulled backwards as hard as human strength could apply it. However, it is thought his momentum was too great to stop soon enough, as the road there is well-beaten and smooth and the car was not equipped with chains.
Reconstruction of the tragedy gave evidence that the car slid a little more than half-way across the track before coming to a stop or before the crashing locomotive stopped it In its fatal progress. This is deduced from the fact that the front of the car as far back as the driver's seat was not touched by the engine, but dented later by the impact with a post against which it was hurled.
Hit in the rear and left, the car swung completely around and was thrown against the signal post on the opposite side of the track from which it had been approaching. This was a distance of about only seven feet. The impact against the post threw the occupants from the car through the opening afforded when the left section of the body had been ripped away.
Dead When Found.
Scharf was thrown about fifty feet from the car, his body being picked up by Constable Sanscartier on the platform on the west side of the track and in the direction of the train's progress. He was killed Instantly.
The remains of Tierney were found about eight feet away, immediately in the line of the automobile's direction. He had been flung from the doomed vehicle and plunged head first into a snowbank. He was dead when picked up and a deep impression was made where his head struck the snow.
James Shedden, the driver, who died while being rushed to the hospital, was found only four feet from the automobile on the same side of the track as his ill-fated comrades. Scharf and Tierney. He had suffered a fractured skull and internal Injuries.
Warner and Casey, who were In the front and back seats on the right side of the car, the opposite one to that crashed by the locomotive, were flung out bodily as the car swung around and were picked up lying side by side, only two or three feet from the car, but covered with the debris of the smashed auto body.
Warner, Casey and Shedden, picked up by Constable Sanscartier and Constable F. Perron, were rushed to Sacred Heart Hospital, Hull, in Beauchamp's ambulance. The body of Scharf was taken to Gauthier's undertaking parlors, while the remains of Tierney were removed to Beauchamp's parlor
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Ottawa Citizen 17 February 1931
Gates at Four Crossings Are Recommended
Jury Inquiring Into Deaths of Three Ottawa Men in Hull Holds No One Criminally Responsible.
Presume Auto Driver Failed to See Train
P. B. Mellon, Jr., Eye-Witness to Tragedy, Tried to Prevent Crash.
Declaring that no one could he held criminally responsible for the crossing at St. Hyacinthe street Hull, on February 8, when three Ottawa residents were killed when the automobile in which they were riding was struck by a train and two others were seriously injured, a coroner's jury last evening rendered a verdict of accidental death.
A strong recommendation was made by the jury that the Canadian Pacific Railway Company install gates at the four level crossings situated between Ottawa and Beemer station. The crossings are at St. Florent, St. Henri, St. Hyacinthe and St. Redempteur streets.
The inquest was held at Gauthier's undertaking parlors, Hull, and was presided over by Dr. Joseph Isabelle, coroner for Hull district. Only four witnesses were heard. The engineer and fireman of tho train an eye-witness of the accident, Peter B. Mellon, Jr., of 99 Gllmour street. Ottawa, and J. E. McCann, 191 Fourth avenue, Ottawa, who was called for identification of the bodies.
Due to the fact that the three men were killed in the same accident, it was only necessary to hold the inquest on one of the victims. Those who lost their lives in the accident were: Oswald Scharf, 340 Clemow avenue; James Tierney, 76 Spruce street, and James Shedden, 12 Java street. The two injured, John Ross Warner, 183 Bay street and Norman Casey, 179 Percy street, are still in the Sacred Heart Hospital recovering from their injuries.
The accident occurred when the party was returning from the Fairmont Golf Club, Mountain road. Shedden was driving the car and it was presumed that he did not see the train approach the crossing.
Travelling SlowlyPatrick Kelly, 273 Bayswater avenue, locomotive engineer, who was in charge of the train, stated that on Sunday morning at 1.16 o'clock he was in charge of the Imperial Limited train as it left Union Station, The train was six minutes late. He said he did not see the car until it reached the crossing. The witness testified that the train, which was composed of 12 coaches, was not travelling at more than 8 or 10 miles an hour. The engineer said , that before approaching the four crossings he blew the whistle and sounded the train bell. When the accident occurred he applied the brakes and the train was stopped in less than 250 feet.
W. R. Creighton, 123 Bayswater avenue, Ottawa, the loccmotive fireman. corroborated Mr, Kelly's evidence.
Eye-witness Evidence.P, B. Mellon, Jr., was the last witness heard, He related that he was driving a car on St. Hyacinthe street and when he approached the crossing he heard the whistle of a train. He stopped his car and suddenly he saw an automobile approaching the crossing. The witness said that this automobile was proceeding at a speed which he estimated was of about 20 to 25 miles an hour. He first thought the car would stop but when he saw that it was continuing its way, he flashed his headlights in order to prevent the accident and also sounded the horn, but the train struck the back of the automobile. Mr. Mellon also stated that in his opinion the train was not going at more than 10 miles an hour.
The jury rendered its verdict without deliberating. The jury was composed of J. C. Goulet, J. B. Chantigny, Romeo Seguin, A. Gagnon, Omer Gregoire and J. B. Michon. Crown Attorney J. A. Parent, K.C., questioned the witnesses and Philip Foran represented the interests of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.