|Ottawa Journal Monday 5 January 1942|
Not one of nine passengers of motor car saw or heard locomotive approaching.
Pounding out of a snow storm and darkness, a CPR passenger train plowed through a crowded motor car stalled on the Churchill avenue (Main street) level crossing in Westboro, at 4.15 Sunday, and took a toll of six dead and two seriously injured. It was a tragic climax to happy family party. The ninth occupant of the car miraculously escaped with only a scratched hand.
The tragedy struck as the sequel to a Good Samaritan act by the driver of the death car. He had stalled across the rails while giving another car a helping helping push. The automobile was smashed to bits by the fast Trans-Canada passenger train as it swung into Ottawa at a 60-miles-per-hour clip.
Two Airmen Killed.
Three members' of an Ottawa lamily were wiped out and members of three Ottawa district families lost their lives. The two Air Force sons and a daughter-in-law of Mr. and Mrs. Zephir Nadon, of 178 Russell avenue died instantly. A 27-year-old girl, Celina Bazinet; Roger Champagne, 21-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Noe Champagne, of Orleans, five miles east of Ottawa, and Sylvio Boyer, 31 -year-old -year-old former Timmins man, were also killed.
The one who; escaped with a scratched hand was another member of the Nadon family. Constable Maurice Nadon, 21. In hospital seriously injured are two girls, one of them an Ottawa resident, and the other a member of the Champagne family.
The automobile was southbound when it stalled' on the right-of-way in the path of the onrushing eastbound train. Spewing its passengers right and left, the car was hurled through the air and landed in a gully 100 'yards east of the crossing, a pile tl junk.
The accident brought tragic end to the New Year's holiday for the Nadon brothers. With their leaves expiring this weekend they were out for their last evening together before returning- to their posts.
The train caught the car as it straddled the crossing. In a fraction of a second automobile and occupants were strewn for a hundred yards along the right-of-way.
Apparently no one saw or heard the train as it loomed up through the snow in the pre-dawn darkness. None of the passengers in the car had a chance. The locomotive, locomotive struck with a crash that was heard for blocks around, and the car literally blown apart by the impact. A twisted pile of wreckage which had been the chassis landed in a gully 100 yards east of the crossing while the other parts of the machine lay strewn along the track.
Five Die Instantly.
Five were killed almost instantly, instantly, while the sixth died half an hour after being admitted to the Ottawa Civic HospitaL Sgt. Nadon was found crumpled in the snow . near the crossing. He was still breathing, but died a few minutes later as he was carried into the office of the M. N. Cummings Lumber Mill nearby. As members of the train crew. and other rescuers went towork, they uncovered other bodies and the injured along the right-of-way, right-of-way, but' it was almost an hour before all the occupants of the car had been accounted for. , Miss Basinet's body was found buried under the wreckage. Gilles Nadon was! still alive when he was picked up along the right-of-way, but he succumbed shortly after he was rushed to hospital.
The death car was one of three which left the home of Mr. and Mrs. Maurice . Renaud, Fourth avenue, Westboro, about the same time.
In the first car which was the one pushed over the tracks, were John Page, driver, John Dutrisac and two members of the Champagne family, Rudolphe and Solange, all of Orleans. The driver had difficulty starting the motor and Roger Champagne, driving his Buick 1930 sedan, offered to push Page's car. Following in the rear was J. V. H. Lavlgne, of 30 Marier road, Eastview, who was accom panied by another, member of the Champagne family, Miss Yvette, of Eastview, and four or five others.
Wheels Stuck in Tracks,
Champagne's car had succeeded in pushing Page's car over ithe slightly raised crossing. The front wheels caught m the ice-rutted railway tracks and unable to obtain obtain traction on the icy road with his rear wheels, the driver was powerless to move the big car. Then tragedy struck.
The third car arrived a minute or two after the crash and the train had already ground to a stop. Yvette Champagne, one of the first out of the vehicle, stumbled almost immediately upon the body of her. brother, Roger.
Dazed by the shock, she could remember little of what had happened after that.
A graphic account of the tragedy was given by Constable Maurice Nadon, R.C.M.P,. only occupant of the death car to escape injury.
The windows of. the car were frosted, he said, and the only clear spot was on the ; windshield In front of the driver. It was snowing heavily.
"'Nobody seemed to hear the train. After it hit us I don't remember anything except picking up the bodies. I remember staggering around in a daze but I don't remember what happened to me from the time of the crash until I found myself picking up bodies."
Gilles, he said, was still breathing when he reached him, so he carried his brother to the nearby mill offlce first. The others were dead when he found them.
John Mack, superintendent of the lumber yard of M.N. Cummings, which is located to the immediate north of the tracks, was among those first on the scene. Mr. Mack, with his wife, resides in an apartment above the office not more than 20 yards from the level crossing.
Mrs. Mack was lying in bed awake when she heard the terrific crash.
Heard Train Whistle.
"I heard the whistle of the train and the sound of a racing car motor. Then . there was a crash and screams of a girl. I looked out the window and I saw girl standing in the middle of the roadway screaming, 'My brother is dead', and pointing to a crumpled figure in the snow. I thought at first the man in the snow was the 'only one that had been killed, There was no sign of the car or any other injured, person. Then the girl began running around screaming 'the train has taken the car away.. The girl seemed to be half-crazed with grief," Mrs. Mack related.
Phoned for Ambulances.
After rousing her husband. Mrs. Mack telephoned police, ambulances and doctors. Mr. Mack began to bring the dead and dying into his apartment but as the trainmen and others began to discover bodies along the track and under the tangled debris of the automobile, he opened the office of the lumber, mill. It soon resembled an emergency hospital outpost in the battle line.
"We did not know how manv there were and there was so much confusion we were unable to find out from the occupants of the other cars. So we just kept on looking", Mr. Mack said. His son, Albert Mack, found the body of Miss Bazinet under a piece of the car wreckage 100 yards down thetrack from the crossing.
Dr. L. C. Purvis and Coroner Dr. iJ. S. Nelson rendered medical aid where possible in the improvised hospital and despatched the injured to the hospital in ambulances of A. I.. Tubman. Westboro and! A. E. Veitch and Son. Park- Parkdale avenue at Gladstone.
A inquest opened this morning at the funerl parlors of Gauthier and Company, Limited. 259 St. Patrick street, by Dr. Nelson, coroner of Westboro.
Others Hear Crash,.
The crash was heard by many residents in the area. Fred Robins who resides on Main street. some distance south of the crossing said he was awakened from a deep sleep by the noise of the impact.
"It was a terrible sight," he said. "Bodies were all over the place. Some of the girls were screaming and the injured were groaning and crying.
The train was in charrge of Engineer! Charles McCurrie. of 48 Julian avenue, Ottawa,- Ottawa, Fireman George Tremblay, 7 Loretta street, and Conductor Henry Budd, 12 Elm street.
As the1 automobile approached the tracks from north to south it was visible for a brief instant to Fireman Tremblay from his lookout on the left side of the cab. The fireman shouted a quick warning to the engineer and emergency brakes thrown on immediately.
The brakes were applied practically at the same time of the impact and the locomotive came to a stop about 50 yards east of the crossing.
A statement made from the office of the district superintendent .of the C.P.R. said the train was "running on time" on its Vancouver to Montreal run and was travelling 60 miles an hour. The warning whistle was sounded for the crossing. There are no wig-wag or alarm devices there. The train was delayed an hour and 22 minutes after the accident.
Occupants of the first automobile, which barely missed being demolished, were dazed from the shock of seeing their friends and members of their own family wiped out In. one terrible instant. Rudolphe. Champagne and his sister, Solange, in that car, were unable to give any coherent account of what happened or what they did. Rudolphe saw the flicker of the headlight of the locomotive for an instant, then the crash came; with shocking nearness nearness behind the car.
The three in the front seat of the Champagne car were, Roger Champagne, Sgt. and Mrs. Nadon, and in the back seat were the others. Maurice Nadon was seated seated on the right side of the rear seat and; it was believed he was thrown out the door to safety at the impact.
Borden Conley, Nepean township township constable, investigated the accident,