|Ottawa Citizen 6 October 1945|
Six Killed in Chesterville Car crash
Party Returning From Rodeo Hit District Persons Perish at Rail Crossing When Automobile Struck by Freight Train.
Six Ottawa district residents, four men and two women, were killed this morning at Chesterville railway crossing when the car in which they were returning to their homes from the rodeo at the Auditorium was struck by an eastbound freight train.
Inquest To Be Held
Town Constable Garnett McLean of Chesterville informed Coroner Dr. Thomas Hamilton of Brinston, Ont., and Ontario Provincial Police of the accident. An inquest is to be held. Harold Ouderkirk is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Ouderkirk of Berwick. He had been confined to a wheelchair, which was in the luggage truck of the car during his drive from Ottawa. It was smashed to pieces in the crash. Ouderkirk had. previously been a patient at the Ridrau Military Hospital, but due to the nature of his injuries was sent to Christie street hospital for treatment and a possible operation.
Was on Leave
Due to the death of his sister and the serious illness of his mother, had been transferred back to th Ottawa Civic Hospital, where he had been allowed a dally compassionate pass by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Mr. Beckstead is survived by on son. Cecil.
Those identified were:
Harold Beckstead, 52, farmer, Chesterville;
Herbert Irving, 50, farmer, Chesterville, whose wife resides at 598 Gllmour street.
Gwendolyn Irving, 20, Mr. Irving's daughter;
Omer Groulx, 25. Chesterville.
Earl Ouderkirk, 25, of Berwick.
Pauline Seguin, 20, Chesterville.
It was reported that an Essie Gouln, 16, who works on the farm of Wallace Myers, Chesterville, had been involved in the accident but it is believed she had been mistaken for Pauline Seguin. Another unidentified man was also reported as killed, and that a bankbook found on his person gave his name as Lalonde, of Verdun, Que.
Ouderkirk, a patient in the Civic Hospital as a result of shrapnel wounds he received in his back overseas, had been on leave at his home to attend the. funeral of his sister, who was buried yesterday
Mr. Beckstead was driver of the car in which all were killed. Police believe that Mr. Beckstead was under the impression that the "wig-wag" railway warning sign which was in motion at the time of the accident was for a westbound freight train stopped at the Chesterville station to take on water, and he did not see the eastbound freight.
On impact the two girls and Mr. Irving were thrown clear of the automobile, which was dragged a quarter mile along the track carrying the bodies of Mr. Beckstead, Harold Ouderkirk, and the yet unidentified man.
Visited Ottawa. The party had spent yesterday in Ottawa, and had gone to see the rodeo in the evening at the Ottawa Auditorium.
Mr. Irving had been employed as a sheet-metal worker at the Ottawa Car and Aircraft. In March of this year he was released from the Ottawa Car and had been working in Eastview.
Ottawa Citizen 8 October 1945
Seventh Person Escaped Fatal Accident
Funeral Rites for Victims Arranged
CH ESTER VILLE, Oct. 7.-(Staff) The investigation of the level crossing accident which cost the lives of six people here early Saturday morning revealed that a seventh person had been riding in the ill-fated automobile until a few minutes before the crash.
He was Amedee Marlon who resides about two miles west of this town. Mr. Marion who had accompanied the party to the rodeo in Ottawa alighted from the car outside his home and learned of the tragedy several hours later. He was a friend of one of the girls who met her death in the accident.
A thorough probe of the levrl crossing accident the worst in this district in several years was under taken Immediately by CPR officials and the Ontario provincial police. Dr. T. A. Hamilton, Brinston, district coroner, investigated the circumstances of the tragedy and announced that no inquest would be held.
The dead are: Howard Beckstead, 60, owner of the car, Chestervllle: Herbert Irving, 50, 698 Gilmour street, Ottawa; his daughter, Gwendolyn Irving, 20, of Chestervllle; Omer Groulx. 38, Chrsterville: Earl Ouderklrk, 25, Berwick; and Pauline Soguln, 20, Chestervllle.
The funeral service for Howard Beckstead, 60, owner of the car, was held yesterday afternoon at 2 o'clock in the Grantley United church. Burial took place in Grantley cemetery.
A double service for Mr. Irving and his daughter, Gwendolyn, will be held today at 2 o'clock at their residence in Chestervllle. Burial will be in Maple Ridge cemetery.
Earl Ouderklrk, whose body is resting at the Brownlee funeral home in Finch, will be buried Tuesday afternoon in Berwick cemetery following a service in the United church at Berwick at 2 o'clock.
The body of Omor Groulx also of Chestervllle, was taken on Saturday afternoon to Casselman where a service is being held this morning at 8.30 o'clock at the Quesnel undertaking parlors there. Burial will be made in the Roman Catholic cemetery at Casselman.
The remains of Pauline Seguln, also of Chestervllle, are resting at the home of her uncle at Chestervllle where the funeral service is being held at 10 o'clock this morning. Burial will be made in the Kemptville cemetery.
Hit by Freight.
Hit squarely in the side by the fast travelling freight train, the sedan was pushed by the locomotive a distance equal to the length of 45 boxcars before the train could be brought to a stop. Three of the bodies were thrown clear of the car on impact while the three others remained trapped in the debris. The twisted wreckage of the automobile scraped the side of another freight train which was stopped on the north track, hitting it with such force that several of the boxcars were uncoupled.
The party were returning to their homes after seeing the rodeo at the Auditorium in Ottawa. They reached the main CPR crossing in the town at 2.55 a.m. The owner, Mr. Beckstead, was believed to have been driving the car at the time. The wig-wag signal at the double- line crossing was in action. A westbound freight train was stopped 50 feet east of the crossing taking water. The driver evidently assumed that the presence of this train was activating the crossing signal, and proceeded to cross the tracks after slowing down. He failed to notice the approach of the east-bound freight, a through train travelling at a high rate of speed.
The only witness of the crash was the engineer of the stationary train, C. J. Bigelow, of Smiths Falls. Mr. Bigelow told police that he saw the automobile reach the crossing, slow down, and drive right In front of the oncoming train.
C. Boland, of Smiths Falls, fireman on the east-bound train, was the first member of the crew to notice the automobile. Crossing the cab he yelled to engineer, L. McNayr, also of Smiths Falls who proceeded to apply the brakes. The 60-car freight train stopped nearly three-quarters of a mile east of the crossing.
Mr. Beckstead, Pauline Seguin and Mr. Groulx were thrown clear of the car and their lifeless bodies were found on the right of way.
The automobile was jammed on the front of the locomotive and considerable difficulty was experienced in extricating the bodies of the three other victims from the wreckage. It was nine a.m. before the front of the locomotive and tracks were cleared of debris.
Awakened by Noise.
Neighboring residents were awakened by the noise and word of the tragedy soon spread to the entire community, about 500 people gathered at the crossing. It took sometime before the number of victims could be ascertained and before the dead could be identified. Dr. H. W. Justus, of Chesterville, was called to the scene but all the six passengers had been killed out-right.
Town Constable Garnet McLean, who lives near the railway crossing, was one of the first to arrive at the scene of the crash. He was awakened by the terrific noise caused by the impact, and took charge pending the arrival of Provincial Constable Leslie Throop, of Morrisburg.
Police officers assisted members of the train crew in releasing the battered automobile from the front of the locomotive. The debris of the car was removed to the Hamilton garage here.
Earl Ouderkirk, a disabled war veteran, and an invalid, was sitting in the rear of the car and had his folding wheef chair with him. The wheel chair was thrown out of the car by the impact and was later found beside the tracks. Ouderkirk was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Ouderkirk of Berwick. He had previously been a patient at the Rideau Military Hospital, but because of the nature of his injuries was sent to Christie street hospital for treatment and a possible operation.
Ouderkirk came to his parents' home at Berwick to attend the funeral of his sister, Mary, 18, last Wednesday. He returned to Ottawa on Friday, He had planned on returning to his home for the weekend in an ambulance but decided to make the trip in Mr. Beckstead's automobile. Mr. Beckstead was a friend of the invalid soldier. Ouderkirk's body was taken to the Brownlee funeral home at Finch.
Although a resident of Ottawa in recent years. Mr. Irving was widely known in the Chesterville district where he lived for several years. Born at Dundas, Ont. he was educated at Wiliamsburg. He was employed at the Nestle Food Company at Chesterville prior to coming to Ottawa to join the staff of the Ottawa Car and. Aircraft Company. He was the father of Gwendolyn Irving, 20, who was also killed in the accident. Mr. Irving was coming to spend the week-end with his mother, Mrs. William Irving, who lives on a farm near here. The. daughter, Gwendolyn, was employed at the farm of Howard Beckstead, one of the victims.
Surviving in the Irving family, in addition to Mrs. Irving, are five daughters, Phyllis, Beulah, Audrey and Lila, all of Ottawa, and Mrs. Beatrice Belanger, of Brockville, and a son, Arnold, Chesterville.
Well Known Farmer
A well known Chesterville farmer, John Howard Beckstead had spent all his life in the district. His wife predeceased him. He is survived by a son, Cecil, at home; one sister, Mrs. Almira Wallace and three brothers, Arthur, Ross and Irvine.
Miss Pauline Seguin was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Philippe Seguin. of Oxford Mills. She had been living since childhood at the home of her uncle, Eugene Monast. a neighbor of Howard Beckstead. Besides her parents, she leaves 11 brothers and sisters, Jean-Louis, Bernard, Gisele. Fleurette, Suzanne, Reuben, Maurice, Rosaline, Nicole, Murielle and Lorraine.
Omer Groulx was a former resident of Casselman and was working on the farm of Eugene Monast. He was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Groulx, of Casselman. He was unmarried. The bodies of Mr. Irving and his daughter were taken to the Dixon funeral home here, while those of Mr. Beckstead, Omer Groulx and Pauline Seguin were removed to the Henderson funeral home ot Chesterville.