|Ottawa Citizen 21 April 1995|
Brockville mourns two teenagers struck by train
BROCKVILLE - Some teenagers wept silently to mourn their two friends, while others showed their sorrow with wails of grief.
The impromptu afternoon vigil was for Dawn Cowan and Candace Mathieson, two 16-year-olds who were struck and killed by a train while walking to their Brockville high school Thursday at 11:30 a.m.
Friends said Cowan and Mathieson had been out comparing prices at stores for a family studies assignment. Word spread quickly throughout Brockville Collegiate Institute, two blocks from the accident site. School administrators immediately gathered the girls' closest friends in the library, where the teenagers cried, hugged each other and, according to one student. "sat loke zombies in total shock."
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The teenagers were struck by the first of three locomotives pulling 99 freight cars west from Montreal to Detroit, said CN Rail spokesman Mike Matthews.
The gates were down and the bells were sounding at the Park Street level crossing when the accident occurred. The lead locomotive's running lights were illuminated and the engineer sounded the whistle, Matthews said.
It appears the young women entered the crossing while an east-bound freight train was passing and waited on the westbound tracks. Because of the noise of the first train, they failed to see or hear the approach of the westbound train.
Matthews said the train that hit the girls was authorized to travel up to 100 kmh at the crossing. Investigators must determine its actual speed, he said.
"It's a terrible tragedy all around," Matthews said from Toronto.
The main line did not reopen until 1:15 p.m., almost two hours after the crash, delaying as many as four VIA passenger and three freight trains.
"As you can see, we have trespassing problems here," said Neil Thomas, manager of CN train services from Belleville to Toronto. Brockville isn't in his territory, but he was in town on other business when the girls were killed.
During an interview at the scene Thomas pointed to several people - adults and children = who were trespassing by walking alongside the tracks.
"You have to educate these people," he said. "You don't go out and play in the middle of the highway or on the airport runway. And you don't walk on tracks."
As he spoke, the lights started flashing and he paused to watch a car speed across the track before the gate came down. The car should have stopped, said Thomas, shaking his head. "I've been to many (train accidents). It's a tragic thing that shouldn't happen."
Ottawa Citizen 16 June 1995
Train whistle failed to prevent death
A 36-year-old Ottawa man died after a passenger train struck him from behind as he walked along the tracks just west of Brockville. William Joseph Lemoine either ignored or did not hear the train's warning whistle. "For some unknown reason he didn't react to the train, and we have no way of knowing why," said Const. Maureen Maveety of the Ontario Provincial Police, Gananoque detachment. In April, two Brockville high school students were struck and killed by a freight train on the same track after they apparently entered a crossing even though the gates were lowered and the warning bells ringing. Police say Lemoine was trespassing on railway property when he was killed Tuesday.