Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area



1972, January 21 - Crossing accident at Woodroffe Avenue, CNR Smiths Falls subdivision, one fatality



From the Ottawa Citizen 23 February 1972.

Jury wants review after death crash on crossing
By Tom Van Dusen Citizen staff writer
A coroner's jury has recommended the review of speed limits for trains in built-up areas.
The recommendation came after an inquest Tuesday (22/2) into the death of Sylvia Jean Hood, 33, after a car-train accident last Jan. 21.
Mrs. Flood was northbound when her car collided with an east-bound passenger train at the Canadian National Railways crossing on Woodroffe Avenue.
Coroner Dr. Thomas Kendall suggested the recommendation while summing up evidence for the jurors. He cautioned them, however, not to expect quick action.
"I investigated 21 deaths at the railway crossing at Parkdale Avenue and Scott Street before they put signals up," he said.
He said the recommendation was worthwhile because "officials won't even consider a speed review unless the idea comes out of something like this."
Archie Greer, who was operating the train, said it was travelling at 50 m.p.h. at the time of the accident.
Mr. Greer said speed limits in different areas were outlined in engineers' time schedules prepared by CN.
"Engineers are governed by a stringent set of rules and there are only certain things they're able to do," said Dr. Kendall. 'The train crew was operating within its guided limits at the time of the accident."
The jury attached no blame to the train crew in the accident.
Mr. Greer said he was about 400 feet from the crossing and Mrs. Flood was about 200 feet away when he first noticed her.
Warning whistle
He said he was in the middle of giving the warning whistle routine when approaching a crossing - when it occurred to him the Flood vehicle was getting a little too close.
"I still assumed she would stop," he said.
When the train was 50 feet away and the car kept moving forward, Mr. Greer gave a series of short whistle blasts hoping to jolt the driver's attention.
In the next instant, Mr. Greer applied the emergency brakes. Collision occurred almost simultaneously.
Mr. Greer and another crewman testified it took about a third of a mile for the train to stop.
Gaudy color
Three witnesses travelling behind Mrs. flood the day of the accident testified that although the warning signals were working and they could see the train a considerable distance from the crossing, the victim never attempted to stop.
Bells on the train and the warning lightpost were operating and the lead diesel engine's headlight was on.
Dr. Kendall noted that the engine was painted a "rather gaudy color of orange with balck-and-white stripes so that it should be seen by someone looking in the direction from which it was coming."
The coroner thought the victim might have been preoccupied or that something might have taken her attention away.
Police testimony revealed that the afternoon of the accident was sunny and Woodroffe Avenue was wet because of freshly laid salt, but not slippery.
The radio on-volume button in the Flood vehicle was up halfway and one of the front tires was almost bald.
Regional government has indicated it will begin construction of an underpass at the crossing in Mav of 1973.



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Updated 16 February 2019