Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1876 January 26 - Man hit by a train near Ottawa station, Canada Central Railway, one fatality

Ottawa Citizen 26 January 1876

Fatal Accident.
A man was killed on the Canada Central R.R. track, about hall a mile from the station this afternoon. It seems he was walking on the track, and was not seen until too late by the engineer of the mid day express train, which ran ovor him killing him instantly. When the train arrived at the station Coroner Lynn was sent flor and took charge of the body. It was afterwards ascertained that the unfortunate man's name was William Johnston, a laborer, employed at Mechanicsville fquarries, about a mile from the depot. He is thirty-live years of age, and has no friends in this district. He is an unmarried man, and a native of St. John, N. B. The engineer states that Johnston slipped out from behind a rock about thirty yards in advance of the train. As soon as he saw him he whistled "down brakes," but the train could not be stopped in time. The inquest will be held at 4 o'clock.

Ottawa Citizen 27 January 1876

The result of the Inquest,
A Verdict of "Accidental Death" - The Railway Employes Exonerated from any Blame

Yesterday afternoon, after the horrible accident at the Canada Central Railway, Coroner Lynn summoned a jury and held an inquest on the remains ol the unfortunate man, Johnston, it was composed as follows : H. W. Alexander, foreman, and Messrs. W. O'Neil, James Wilson, Joseph Boucher, Michael Reilly, Hugh McCoy, Thomas Plunkett, S. Leclaire, George Philion, Silas Carpenter, David Johnston, Allred Davis, Wm. Barrett.
The first witness called was
conductor of No. 2 Express. He testified as follows: When we were about a mile and a half from Ottawa I heard the signal for brakes. I looked out on both sides of the train, but saw nothing. By that time the train stopped and I ran around to the front of the engine and saw a man lying on the foot plate of the engine. He was dead. The signals of danger were given eight or ten times. The crossing signals which were given alout two minutes before could be distinctly heard at the station. The driver even gave the signal for the station before the accident. The danger signal followed almost immediately after it. The man I saw on the plate is the man now in the freight shed. I was not acquainted with the deceased. He was lying on his back with his head over the buffer beam.
testified : I am an engineer on the Canada Central and Brockrille and Ottawa R.R.  On coming in with the train about half a mile from Ottawa, I saw a man on the track between 30 or 40 yds. in advance of the train. We were travelling at the rate of about 15 or 18 miles an hour. I sounded the danger signal several times ; saw that the man paid no attention, and I then reversed the engine and called brakes. That's all that could possibly be done on such an occasion. The engine struck the deceased and threw him on to the front of the engine. The engine was then stopped, and I put the baggage man on front to take charge of the body until we arrived at the station. I do not know the man. I feel certain he heard the whistle. He never psid any attention to it. He made no effort to get out of the way. The danger signal was heard at the station and several persons came up to meet us. When the man was struck it was down grade, and I was using no steam at the time. Deceased was carried about 300 yards after being struck before the train stopped. I didn't see deceased coming on to the track. He never moved after being struck. I don't think he was drunk. He did not stagger any. He had plenty of time to leave the track after I sounded the danger signal.
fireman of No. 2 Express, said : I was on the engine as fireman when the accident occurred, about 22 minutes after one o'clock. I saw deceased on the track, He was between 30 and 40 yards in advance of the train. .As soon as I saw him, I called to the engineer and he gave the usual danger signal. I also pulled the bell, and put on the tender brake. He had lots of time to step off the track. He never turned his head around when the whistle was sounded. The train was on the down grade travelling at the rate of between 15 and 20 miles an hour. Everything was done that possibly could be to save the man's life. The train was about a mile from the city when the accident occurred. The deceased did not stagger any. I am under the impression that the man was deaf. Generally, when people are on the track, they will turn around when the whistle sounds. I have seen persons as near the train before and escape.
brakesman No. 2 Express, said : When I first heard the whistle we were about half a mile from Ottawa. Immediately after the danger whistle sounded the engineer whistled, calling for brakes. I put them on as soon as I possibly could. I heard the station whistle before that, and also the one, at the crossing. They could be heard distinctly for miles. I was standing at the brakes at the time the danger signal was given, and the brakes oould not have been put on quicker
said: - I made an exammation of the body of the deceased Johnston. On the anterior surtace of the body no marks of violence of any importance were found. On viewing the posterior parts ot the body I noticed, first, marks of a bruise on both legs just above the knee. The bones, however, were uninjured. I found the back broken at about the middle of the dorsal region, and at that point several ribs were detached from the spine. There was also a fracture of the bones of the neck, and a very extensive depressed fracture of the back of the skull, extending to the base. He was bleeding from mouth, nose and ears. There were also injuries of a more superficial character found in the neighborhood of the shoulder joint. Death must have been instantaneous.
said: I carry on quarry work. I have known the deceased for a week. He boarded with me. I saw him this morning at breakfast. He appeared to be in good health and spirits. I do not believe he was deaf. I understood him to be very sharp at hearing. I never heard him mention that be was in trouble. He told me he was a single man. He spoke as if he came from New Brunswick. I never saw the least sign of liquor about him. I heard, however, that he did take an occasional spree. He was employed at the quarry, but was not working yesterday. I don't think he was discharged.
said: I am a contractor at the quarries. I have known the deceased since last August. He was a single man. I believe he came from St. Johns, New Brunswick. He was not a steady man. When employed on the waterworks he would generally miss a day after pay day. I have seen him myself under the influence of liquor. I did not see him to-day until after the accident. He worked a quarter of a day yesterday morning. He had to knock off because there was no derrick. I saw him yesterday, and he was then sober. I often noticed that he was absent-minded. The track between the depot and Mechanicsville is used as a thoroughfare by many. Deceased was out of employment from the 3rd until the 19th of January. He asked me for God's sake to give him something to do, as he had no place to stay.
agent ot the Canada Central Company, said : - Persons at the station can distinctly hear the whistle at the crossing. Our track between Ottawa and Skead's mills is used daily by pedestrians, much to our annoyance. Both sides ot the track are fenced, and persons have no right on the track whatever, and are considered trespassers.
said he had talked with the deceased. He never saw him drunk, he "chummed" with him for a month at a time. When the witness spoke to the deceased last Thursday he appeared to be melancholy.
This concluded the evidence, and the jury returned a verdict of ''accidental death," and exonerated the railway officials from any blame whatever.
The deceased had $1.25 wages coming to him, which his employer handed over to the coroner. Nothing was found on his person.

Almonte Gazette 28 January 1876

Horrible Railroad Accident
A horrible accident occurred last Wednesday on the C.C. Railway near the Ottawa station. As the noon express was nearing the depot, a man named Wm. Johnston, was observed to step on the track and walk forward in front ot the engine. The train was about thirty yards distant, and although the driver blew the whistle several times, and finally for down breaks, the man took no notice. The pilot struck him on the head, tossing him up on the engine where the corpse remained until the coroner arrived. An inquest was held in accordance with these facts.

Also reported in the Ottawa Free Press January 26 and 27 and the Times of Ottawa January 27

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