Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1935, December 10 and 11 - Accidents on CPR at Arnprior and Pakenham on consecutive days.
Four fatalities, same locomotive engineer.

Ottawa Citizen 11 December 1935

Arnprior Child Meets Death At Train Crossing
Rhoda Sinnett, Aged 11,Suffers Tragic End on Her way Home From School. Inquest Tuesday
ARNPRIOR. Ont.. Dec. 10 Rhoda Sinnett, 11, youngest of four daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Sinnett, Daniel street, was instantly killed when struck by a through eastbound freight at the John street rossing of the C.P.R.. at 4.30 o'clock this afternoon.
A pupil in one of the junior third rooms of the Arnprior separate school, the girl was on her way home when the accident occurred.
Signals Were Heard.
Ezra E. Smith, who was 200 or more yards distant on the south side of the track, and Weldon Melanson, about the same distance on the north side, told identical stories of the fatality. They had seen the girl on the John street crossing apparently walking easterly and parallel of the tracks, sliding one foot along the rail. Neither actually saw her struck; each man heard the train whistle blowing vigorously and each heard the signal bell ringing. As the train crossed the crossing it shut off Melanson's view and other objects impeded the view of Mr. Smith. But apparently the girl was struck at just about the easterly side of the crossing, and, carried for about 50 feet before she rolled under the wheels.
The train which was in charge of Conductor A. C. Fraser, Engineer F. Nagle and Trainmen D. Featherston and J. Gange, all of Smiths Falls, was said to be slowing down for the Daniel street crossing and by various people the speed of the train was estimated at from 15 to 30 miles  per hour.
Conductor Fraser, who was in the van of the train at the time of the accident, declined to make any statement beyond to express regret over the tragedy and sympathy for the bereaved family.
Other members of the train crew also declined to comment or talk in reference to the fatality.
Father Away at Camp.
Father of the deceased girl is at present employed in a Gillies Bros.' Limited camp at Brent and at home are her grief-stricken mother and two sisters, Martha, a student in the Arnprior high school, and Iola, an employe of Kenwood Mills, Ltd.;  another sister. Mrs. Bella Stone, resides in Toronto.
The body was taken to the undertaking parlor of P. L. Convey where Dr. A. Jamieson, coroner, and his jury, empanelled by Chief of Police J. S. Rodgers. viewed the remains. Members of the jury were: T. P. O'Toole, foreman; William Lewis, Mort Sullivan, Allan Clarke. G. H. Devine. William McGonigal. Andrew Armand, John R. Byrne and Charles Slaughter. The inquest was adjourned until Tuesday, Dec. 17.
Funeral arrangements have not been completed and the date is dependent on how soon the father ran return from Brent, Ont., to his home here.

Ottawa Journal 11 December 1935

Well-Known Residents Lose Lives on Way to Turkey Fair.
PAKENHAM. Ont.. Dec. 11 , When the automobile in which they were travelling to Almonte was struck by a westbound C.P.R. freight-train, three well-known Pakenham residents were instantly killed at 1.45 o'clock this afternoon. Car and mangled bodies of the occupants were hurled more than 150 feet by the impact, and were dead when aid arrived.
The dead are:
Richard Burke aged 57.
Thomas Somerton age 43
Mrs. Thomas Somerton age 41.
Going to Turkey Fair
The three were going to Almonte to attend a turkey fair there, and the fatalities are attributed to the fact that view of the track is somewhat obscured by the Pakenham station.
By a strange coincidence Frank Magle, engineer of the freight train which crashed into the car hurtling it along the right-of-way a tumbled mass of wreckage, was also at the throttle of the engine which killed 11-year-old Rhoda Sinnett at Arnprior yesterday.
The fast freight train which does not stop at Pakenham was halted within 200 feet and members of the train crew rushed to the shattered machine, to give its occupants assistance. They found that all three had been killed Instantly.
Burke at Wheel
Bodies of Mr. Burke and the Somertons were removed to Pakenham town council chamber where a preliminary inquest was opened by Dr. A. A. Metcalfe, district coroner, and adjourned until next week. It was established that Mr. Burke was at the wheel of the automobile.

Ottawa Citizen 11 December 1935.

Three Dead In Crossing Crash Near Pakenham
Mr. and .Mrs. Thomas Somerton and Richard Burke Victims When Auto and Train Collide.
Tried To Apply Brakes, But Car Skidded Ahead
Slippery Surface Caused Car To Move Directly into Path of Train
Pakenham, Dec. 11 - Mr. and Mrs.Tom Somerton and Richard Burke of this village were instantly killed when an automobile driven by the latter drove in front of a freight train at 1.45 o'clock  this afternoon.
The crash took place just outside of the C.P.R. station when the freight train was travelling west at a fair rate of speed. Apparently the driver of the car saw the train coming and applied his brakes but the car skidded directly into the path of the approaching train.
All three occupants of the auto were hurled from the machine and thrown a distance of some 50 yards from the point of impact while the machine itself was demolished.
Both the Somertons and Burke lived near the station and had just started to go to Almonte on business when the tragedy occurred.
Coroner Doctor Metcalfe, of Almonte, arrived shortly after and opened an inquest. Mr. and Mrs. Somerton,. the former a farmer of this village, have been residents of Pakenham for many years.. They are survived by seven children.
Mr. Burke was also a farmer of this district and leaves a wife and five children.
The freight train that struck the car is not usually stopped at Pakenham and consequently was going at a fair rate of speed when the crash occurred.
Burke was driving the car with Mr. and Mrs. Somerton sitting in the rear seat of the sedan.
Large Crowd Gathers
The sound of the collision could be heard for a great distance and a large crowd soon gathered at the spot it took the combined efforts of a number of men to remove the wreckage of the car from the double tracks leading out from Pakenham.
The bodies of the victims were badly mangled and cut with glass. They were taken to the homes of their survivors since there is no undertaking parlour in Pakenham. The inquest, opened this afternoon, was adjourned to a later date.

Chronicle Telegraph 12 December 1935

Three Killed In Auto-Train Crash

Pakenham Ont., Dec.12 (C.P.)- Mr. and Mrs. Tom Somerton and Richard Burke of this village were killed instantly when an automobile driven by the latter crashed into a freight train near here. The crash occurred close to the Canadian Pacific railway station with the freight train traveling west. Apparently Burke saw the train because he applied the brakes but the car skidded directly into its path. The three people had started for Almonte Ont. on a business trip. The Somertons have lived here many years and had seven children. Burke leaves a wife and five children.

By a strange coincidence the engineer was Frank Nagel, whose train killed eleven year old Rhoda Sinnett Tuesday as she was returning home from school in Arnprior.

Ottawa Citizen 18 December 1935

Arnprior Child's Death Accidental
Coroner's Jury Exonerates Train Crew of Blame at Alice Sinnelt Inquest.
ARNPRIOR. Dec 17. - A verdict of accidental death through being struck by a train, with an appended statement that the crew in charge of the train were exonerated from all blame was the verdict rendered by a coroner's jury today enquiring into the cause of death of Alice Rhoda Sinnett. 11, who was killed near the John street crossing of the CPR. in Amprior on Tuesday. Dec 10.
Wm. Montgomery and Mrs. Rose Freivault and two children, Margaret Bimm and Gertrude Schnobb testified they had seen the deceased girl on one rail in front of the train and all had seen her step in between the rails just as the train hit her. Mr Montgomery said he shouted to little Miss Sinnett twice as the latter waa sliding along the rail apparently unaware of the train coming. At the second shout the girl had turned her head, had apparently noticed for the first time the close proximity of the train and he believed she had become confused and stepped between the rails and not to one side where she would be clear of the track. The two children also said they shouted to the victim of the accident but apparently she had not heard them.
Whistles Sounded
Engineer of the train F. Nagle stated that the headlight of the train had been turned on as they left Renfrew; customary long and short whistles had been blown as the train entered Amprior; the train bell had been ringing continuously while the train passed through Arnprior and for some time after the accident. The train had been slowed down for a C.P.R. and C.N.R. crossing in the west end of the town and from there on the engine had not been working and the train had been drifting at about fifteen miles per hour.
When passing the station the engineer said he saw the girl on the track and the whistle had been blown continuously to warn her, until she was struck. Witness had not seen her struck as she was on the opposite side of the train. He had applied emergency brakes when signalled to do so by the fireman and the train had been stopped in about 300 feet. Fireman Reg. Manion and Trainman J. Gange who were in the engine had seen the girl on the track and had not seen her step into clear; and surmising that she was about to be struck, both signalled to the engineer to stop the train. Both corroborated the evidence of the engineer concerning headlight, whistle, bell and speed of the train.
Weldon Melanson and Miss Iva Stevenson both of Arnprior and Mrs. John Chatterton of Sand Point said they saw the girl on the track but had not seen her struck. All had had their attention attracted by the unusual blowing of the whistle as had Ezra Smith at his home about two blocks distant. He believed the train was travelling at an ordinary speed, not fast enough to attract attention. Some had heard the train bell and some had heard the crossing signal. Other witnesses included Chief of Police John S. Rodgers. Dr. J. H. Box and Mrs. Charles Sinnett, mother of the deceased girl.
Dr. A. Jamieson of Amprior, coroner, presided and .Crown Attorney H B. Johnson. K.C., Pembroke, interrogated the witnesses. Members of the jury were T. P. O'Toole, foreman; Andrew Armand. J. R. Bvrne, Allan Clarke, G. H. Devine. Wm. Lewis, Wm. McGonigal. Charles Slaughter and Mort Sullivan.

Click here to see pages from Arnprior Chronicle 12 December 1935

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