|Cornwall Freeholder 3 November 1987|
Cornwall Man Escapes Serious Injury in Truck-Train Collision on Boundary
A Cornwall man miraculously escaped injury late Monday afternoon when the truck he was driving, carrying a full load of stone slammed into a 15-car freight train on Boundary Road just north of the Highway 401 overpass.
The collision derailed four empty CP Rail tanks as well as the train’s locomotive. The truck, owned by Cornwall Gravel, and all the rail cars involved were demolished. There was no damage to the locomotive which had passed through the crossing prior to the collision.
The three-man crew aboard the train was uninjured.
A CP Rail spokesman said it is common practise for an engineer and train-men to travel in the front inside the train’s engine while the conductor is located at the rear in the caboose.
"All three men on the train were very lucky, especially the two men in the engine of the train," said Stanley Harris, CP Rail superintendent for Smiths Falls region, which includes Cornwall.
Three of the four derailed cars normally transport highly-toxic chemical fluids between Montreal and Cornwall. The fourth was carrying common rock salt.
A spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment said there could have been a major chemical spill had the cars been loaded.
"We’re quite lucky," said Rick Eamon, senior environment officer with the Cornwall office of the Ministry of the Environment.
"If the cars had been full, every resident within a 200-metre radius would have been forced to evacuate," said Eamon. "The vapours alone from the Caustic and styrene monomer are very hazardous."
One of the empty cars was slightly punctured and was carrying styrene monomer which is flammable, but a CP Rail official said there was no real threat to residents. "All of our cars are double-lined and that particular puncture is barely through the first seal."
Harris said the affected line was a branch line. The main line runs from Montreal to Smiths Falls.
CP Rail crews from Montreal separated the twisted tanker cars from the standing 10 cars and caboose late last night.
Residential traffic returned to normal shortly after 1 a.m. this morning.
A crane from Montreal was to pull out the partially buried cars today. "I’m not sure when they’ll be done there but you’ve got to understand they are working under poor conditions. Some of the cars are filled with water and its going to be a slow process," said Harris.
Local firefighters sprayed the empty tankers for almost four hours as a precautionary measure.
Cornwall Fire Chief Pete Champagne said there was never any real threat of fire. "We had three pumpers carrying more than 18,000 gallons of water there last night and we would have only had to shuttle water from about half-a-mile from our nearest water source, he added.
Rural roads such as, Boundary and Headline roads, are regularly used by Cornwall Gravel trucks to gain access to Montreal and Kingston by Hwy. 401.
Officials from Cornwall Gravel were reluctant to make any comments today but did say the truck was worth more than $110,000 and added "our driver is lucky to be alive."
Ottawa Citizen 4 November 1987
Railway crossing crash site to re-open today
CORNWALL CP Rail officials expect to reopen later today the freight branch line in the northeast sector of the city that was the scene of a truck-train collision Monday evening.
The accident occurred shortly after 5 p.m. when a fully-loaded southbound gravel truck smashed into a 15-car freight train on Boundary Road just north of the Hwy. 401 overpass.
The collision derailed three empty cars and one car loaded with rock salt. The truck, owned by Cornwall Gravel, was demolished.
The truck's driver, Allan Acheson, 31, suffered a sprained left ankle and a fractured pelvis. He was in stable condition Tuesday at Cornwall General Hospital.
"It was really a miracle because it could have been a big disaster," said Cormwall Police Staff Sgt. Brian Kirkey. Charges are pending, he said, but refused to give details.
The three-man crew aboard the train was not injured. CP Rail assistant superintendent Greg Seeney arrived from Smiths Falls to help with the first CP Rail crews.
With the aid of a 150-ton crane, the derailed cars were cleared Tuesday off the damaged tracks. About 24 metres of track had to be repaired. The damage hasn't been estimated.
The track is a branchline to the main east-west CP line and is used only by freight trains linking Cornwall with Montreal. The railway crossing is marked with a sign post, but has no barrier or flashing signals.
Cornwall Standard Freeholder 5 November 1987
BOUNDARY ROAD WILL BE BLOCKED UNTIL THURSDAY
Boundary Road at the CP Rail tracks remains blocked today as rail crews sift out the twisted metal remaining from the truck-train collision Monday afternoon.
City police Sgt. Denis Moquin said traffic may not be restore for a day-and-a-half now. "It takes quite a bit of time," he said.
A crane with a capacity of lifting 250 tonnes and designed specifically for hoisting trains was brought in Tuesday from Montreal to extract the derailed cars.
"We are currently pulling out the cars and placing them back on their trucks. So far, we’ve got two upright and we should have the other two by today," said Stanley Harris, regional superintendent for CP Rail.
He said the rail cars average 100 tonnes.
Harris said the main track between Montreal and Smiths Falls was interrupted for one day and has returned to normal service.
The four tank cars following the engine were thrown-off the track by the collision with a double-axle truck loaded with gravel.
Jean-Pierre Wathier, owner of Cornwall truck Centre, said the average weight of a typical gravel truck with a full load would be in the neighbourhood of 30 tonnes.
Moquin said the fully-loaded gravel truck was carried 9.8 metres by the eastbound train.
One of the three crew members who did not want to be identified said the freight train was travelling "about 20 miles an hour." However, Harris would neither deny nor confirm the estimated speed but said "for us the maximum speed there (the crossing) is 25 miles per hour."
Rural roads north of the city are frequently used by heavy trucks which transport gravel and sand from the Cornwall Gravel quarry located on Headline Road.
Harris said CP Rail will be investigating the collision. "We definitely plan to have an inquiry into the accident."