From the Ottawa Citizen 5 July 2005
Photo from Steve Hunter Photographer unknown, please contact to obtain credit
A 52-car derailment in Prescott brought CN passenger and freight traffic to a halt yesterday between Toronto and Montreal, one of Canada's busiest rail corridors. The tanker cars were empty at the time of the accident and Ontario Provincial Police said the only two people on the train escaped uninjured.
The accident occurred moments after the train, heading east, crossed under the Edward Street overpass, one of the main streets in the town of 4,000 people about 45 minutes south of Ottawa. The tain was on its way to Montreal and had dropped off fuel at an Ultramar terminal in nearby Maitland before the accident.
Police said nearby residents were not in danger and no evacuations were necessary. As of last night there was no word on when the tracks would reopen. The accident left people nearby shaken.
"I was sitting in my living room with my daughters when we heard a big whooshing sound shortly before 4 p.m.," said Fran Campbell, who lives on the west side of the overpass.
"And I am just so thankful that it didn't happen on this side of the overpass because the gas lines for all our homes are right next to the tracks - it could easily have blown up our houses," she added.
"I was in my kitchen and looked out of the window because the freight train coming through was sounding odd - there was just something different about the sound," said Scott Davis, a 37-year old resident who witnessed the crash.
"I saw a big cloud of brown dust. Then I took a closer look and saw the tanker cars bouncing up and down the track. They were running off the track and into the telephone poles.
"The cars weren't moving very fast, but they didn't stop.
"They just kept coming through. They were snapping the telephone poles off like they were matchsticks."
Mr. Davis was with his daughters, Allison, 6, and Emily, 7. The family's home is 400 metres and five houses away from the tracks.
"I told the girls to put their shoes on and I told them to get ready in case I gave the word to leave immediately," he said.
"There are tanker cars that come through here full of all kinds of chemicals. You never know what might be in them. If there was any sign of fire I would have been out of there."
After warning his daughters they may have to flee, Mr. Davis called 911.
"I told them we had a derailment on an eastbound train," Mr. Davis said.
"They asked if we need fire, ambulance or police services and I said we are going to need pretty much everything."
Mr. David then left his home to make sure elderly neighbours were aware of the crash. Emergency crews responded within ten minutes of the derailment, he said.
When you know the kinds of things that travel over freight through our backyard, it could have been a lot worse., he said.
A steadty stream of onlookers stood atop the Edward Street overpass last night as crews examined the tracks and the wreckage.
"It looks like the wheels stopped but the train kept going," said Leanne Crain, looking down at the wheels that scattered the tracks while the tankers mostly appeared to have settled on their right side.
Mr. Crain, along with other residents, said work was being done on that section of tracks all last week.
However, the CN spokesman, Mark Hallman, said the cause of the accident had not been determined. Mr. Hallman added that CN officials were looking at possible detours until the track was reopened.
This was taken approximately 50 hours after the derailment occurred. The cleanup crew worked fast.