National Archives PA 210194
Bottom three photos - Bytown Museum
FATAL ACCIDENT ON THE C.P.R.
THE " SOO " TRAIN RUNS THROUGH AN OPEN SWITCH
And the fireman is Killed - Miraculous Escape of the Engineer and Passengers - An Inquest Will be Held.
Another fatal accident has to be chronicled through, somebody's carelessness in leaving a railway switch open. Fireman Johnson Golden of the C. P. Railway, was the victim, the accident taking place a couple of hundred yards from the Hull Station. Engineer Michael O'Connor and many passengers nearly shared a similar fate. O'Connell was badly scalded, but fortunately the passengers escaped.
It was the "Soo" train going West that met with the accident It is due to pass the Hull Station at 3.20 p.m. Being ten minutes' late, however, the unfortunate fireman had that much larger lease of life. The switch that caused the accident led to a siding. As the "Soo"' train does not stop at Hull it went through the open switch with considerable speed. Every car ran off except the last. The engine and the two cars next to it
TUMBLED OVER THE EMBANKMENT
and were badly smashed, while two other cars remained inclined. The engine was a total wreck. All that was left of it was a mass of broken and bent iron and steel, which lay at the bottom of the embankment which is fifteen feet high at that place.
DIED DOING HIS DUTY.
The fireman was found dead in the shapeless cabin of the engine. One hand had hold of the throttle, showing that he died trying to avert the accident he saw would happen. There were no severe marks of injury on his body, and death is supposed to have been caused by his neck being broken. His face was severely bruised, however. He was taken from the cabin of the engine by employees of the company and carried to the freight shed where he was stretched out on the floor. A red handkerchief was placed over his face, and he laid there till the arrival of a coffin.
It was thought that Engineer O'Connell had met a similar fate, but the searching party were given a glad surprise by finding him sitting on the snow some distance away. He was badly scalded about the body and legs, and suffering terribly, he was endeavoring to take off his boots. Medical assistance was at once summoned, and Drs. Henderson, Wright and Garrrow, arriving soon after, attended to the injuries of the ??? who was rhen conveyed to his home in the city. The doctors stated he will recover.
MIRACULOUS ESCAPE OF THE PASSENGERS.
The passeneers had a miraculous escape, especially those in ihe immigrant car, which went over the embankment with the engine and tender and baggage car. The immigrants were bruised and badly shaken, but received no serious injury. Those in the first and second class and dining cars and the sleeper, also escaped without injury, as the cars as stated above, did not go over the embankment.
The shrieks of the women and children in the cars added to the horror of the scene. They were unable to get out by the doors, and were assisted through the windows.
BIG LOSS TO THE COMPANY.
The loss to the company will amount to several thousand dollars. In addition to the engine and tender, the baggage and immigrant cars were badly damaged.
One of the passengers on the immigrant car named Bancroft speaking to the Citizen said that he would never forget the experience he had gone through. He was reading a paper when the accident occurred and the first thing he knew the car was turned over and every one seemed to lie sprawling on one another. It was a mystery to him how they escaped serious injury.
The conductor on the train was Mr. William Yuell, who was recently taken on by the company.
AN INQUEST WILL BE HELD.
An inquest will be held on the remains of Golden this morning at nine o'clock. It will be presided over by Coroner Graham.
The switchman was a Mr. Alexander Meilleux, who lives in Church-street, Hull. He claims that when he left the switch at one o'clock in the afternoon it was properly fixed for the "Soo" train, and how it came to be open will, no doubt, be a matter of investigation bv the company.
Golden was a single man and belonged to Montreal. The engineer, O'Connell, was married.
The passengers were brought to this city by the Aylmer train, and last night continued on their journey.
Ottawa Journal, 31 March, 1892:
A smash up in which one man was killed and another fatally injured, and many were badly shaken, occurred on the Canadian Pacific Railway near Hull station yesterday afternoon.
The "Soo" train from Montreal, due in Ottawa at half past three, ran through an open switch, wrecking the engine and tender, baggage express, and two colonist cars and killing the fireman Johnson Gloden of Montreal.
The train, being a through train, passed through Hull station without stopping, running at about 25 miles an hour. About two hundred yards south of the station is a switch. At that point begins an embankment that runs to a height of some 20 feet. The switch was open, and the train dashing along left the rails and thundered down the embankment. The engine tore over the earth and snow for some two hundred feet and them dug deep into the mucky soil.
Both driver and fireman stood to their posts. The baggage car, rising up, broke its fastenings to the tender and over turning the engine and tender, was carried through the air and dropped to the ground some fifty feet further on from which place it ploughed through the ground some fifty feet further, the express and postal car following.
Ottawa Citizen 1 April 1892
Finding of the jury on the death of fireman Golden.
The accident on the CPR at Hull on Wednesday afternoon, resulted in the loss of two lives, for in addition to the fireman, who was killed instantly, engineer Michael O'Connell, who, although badly scalded, was expected to recover, died from his injuries yesterday morning. The friends of the Dead engineer requested Coroner Marsh to hold an inquest as to his death. The coroner at once empaneled a jury, which, after viewing the remains last night adjourned until this evening. Michael O'Connell lived in Bayswater. He leaves a mother, wife and two children. Nearly 40 years of age he had been in the service of the CPR since he was a boy. He worked on the road when it was known as he Q M.O and R.R. and had always been known as a careful, steady and hard-working engineer. His wife was Miss Mary Kenna, whose Brother Joseph, a fireman on the railway, was killed in a collision about a year ago.
The inquest on the engineer.
At 5 yesterday afternoonCoroner Mark empaneled a jury to hold the inquest on the remains of the engineer Michael O'Connell. The jury met at Byer's hotel at Bayswater and something to a residents to view the body.
After doing this they adjourned until this evening at 7:30 when they will meet at Byer's hotel to take the evidence of the witnesses. Among the witnesses will be the doctors who attended the deceased Alex Meilleur the switchman, and the station agent The jury is composed of the following gentlemen : J. Warnock (foreman), J. Martin, W. Porter, F. O'Malley, P. Baxter, J. Baxter, C. Rocoyn, G. J Young, A. Wilson, T. A. Scott, T. Arthur, J. Byers and W. Rennecks.
The Inquest on fhe Fireman.
Tlie inquest as to the death of Fireman. Golden was held yesterday by Coroner Galeau, at the C. P. It. station, in Hull. The jurymen were Josh. Wright, (foreman), C. M. Wright, John McPyke, It. D. Donaldson, Theo. Viau, H.T. Bedard, Frank Davis, Wm. Barrett, Wm. Charron, M.B. Boyd, Telesphore Philion, and Jas. Davis. Mr. W. L. Scott, of Scott & Scott, watched the proceedings on behall of the C. P.R.
The first witness was George Walker, of Hull, who witnessed the accident. The train, he said, was running at a high rate of speed. He saw the semaphore wire snap, and then the cars left the rails and dashed down the embankment. He did not know whether the switch was open when the cars left the track, but he saw it open afterwards. The switchman's name was Meilleur. he had never seen anyone move the siwtch except Meilleur.
Dr. Paquet gave medical testimony attributing death to concussion of the brain and scalding steam.
The next witness was switchman Alex. Meilleux, who is also baggageman and has charge of freight shed. He considered the work too much ior one man. He had been for twelve years in the same position, but before three men did the work. He was on duty yesterday when the "Soo" train passed. It was about ten minutes late. He did his duty with the semaphores as usual yesterday, and as far as he knew the switch was not open. He closed and locked it when the Aylmer train passed at 1.05 p. m.
The '"Soo" train was going at a greater speed than usual, yesterday, being late. She was going fully forty miles on hour. After the train left the track he found the switch was open and unlocked. Witness said he had reason to believe there were switch keys in the possession of several persons. Some time ago he found one with his own little boys. Last spring he (witness) tendered his resignation, but it was not accepted. He subsequently admitted that since he had been doing the work of three men, the trafficc, owing to opening of the Smith's Falls short line had been lighter than formerly.
Several jurymen asked a number of questions to elicit whether witness was overworked. Mr. W. L. Scott objected that the questions were irrelvant as it had been shown that he was able to attend to his duties on Wednesday. Witness continuing said conductors, brakemen, station agents and others had switcn keys. He believed some one opened the switch Wednesday after he left it.
WHAT THE AGENT CERTIFIED
Station agent H. J. Kearney said he did not notice how the switches were when the "Soo" train passed, being busy inside the station at the time. He only saw the train as it left the track. During 11 and 12 a. m., when the switchman goes to dinner, it was his (witness) duty to look after the yard, but not at other times. On Wednesday when the "Soo train passed, Meilleur was attending to his duties as usual. He did not know whether he closed the switch after the Aylmer train went out at 1.05. He went to dinner then and did not get back till shortly before the "Soo" train came in.
In reply to the coroner witness said he knew there was a rule of the Company requiring station agents to see that the switches were set and locked for the main line at least five minutes before the trains arrived, but owing to his other duties he was unable to attend to it. It was impossible for an agent at a place like Hull to carry out all the rules required of him. One switch was fully half a mile from the station. He was generally around the yard when trains come in. The switchman was sober and industrious. In his opinion it would be prudent now that the G. V. Ry. is running, to have an assistant for Meilleur. Only he and the switchman had keys. The old operator, who left the day before yesterday, had a key. He did not know where it was. The operator had been transferred to Calumet station.
THE VERDICT. The jury returned the following verdict : "That the deceased Johnston Goldden came to his death by the overturning of the locomotive and the escaping steam in the "Soo" train, No. 3, on the C. P. R. at the accident by which the train ran off the track through an open switch, west of Hull station, on the afternoon of the 30th inst., and we the jury are of the opinion from the evidence that the agent and switchman neglected their duty in not seeing that the target and switch were properly set before pulling down the semaphore to allow the train to pass; and we also severely censure the C. P. R. company for having, in our opinion, inadequate help at Hull station for tho safety of the public."
Ottawa Citizen 4 April 1892
BORNE TO THE TOMB.
FUNERAL OBSEQUIES OF THE LATE MICHAEL O'CONNELL
The Cortege One of the Largest Ever Seen in Ottawa - Those Who Were Present- Resolution of Condolence - The Inquest.
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Ottawa Citizen 5 April 1892
THE LATE MICHAEL O'CONNELL
Two Important Witnesses Fail to Turn Up at the Inquest.
The inquest as to the death of the late Michael O'Connell, engineer of the C. P. R. train wrecked at Hull last week, was resumed at Bayswater last night.
John O O'Connell, brother ot deceased, who was callad lirst, testified he visited the I'm done for."
Kearney, the station agent, and Meilleur, the switchman, were next called, but to the great surprise of all present they failed to appear.
Legault, the brakeman on the train, was called, but could give no additional evidence to that given at the tormer meeting.
Mr. Scott, solicitor tor the company, suggested the name of the next witness to be called, but Mr. Latchford objected to Mr. Scott suggesting the order in which the witnesses should be called, as that was tne coroner's business.
Coroner Mark called Mr. C. W. Spencer, general superintendent of the eastern branch ot the C.P.R. He states that it the employees on the road neglected their rules, they were dismissed or punished. He did not know how the switch on the day ot the accident came to be open. He knew of no better arrangement of a switch for public safety than the one in question. He never knew of on accident to happen on those switches when they w-ere properly acjusted. The company always expressed a desire that they should have the best appliances in all cases, regardless of expense. The cost of improvements was never considered as an object against their adoption. On the day of the accident instructions were given to ex-detective Montgomery to find out somethings for the company.
In answer to Mr. Latchford, witness said he was not positive as to whether the instructions were given in writing. The instructions were to the effect that be was to enquire if the station agent and switchman were at their post when the accident occurred, as it was thought their time was taken up by loafers, who sometimes congregate around the station. The object of inquiring was to ascertain the efficiency of the
STAFF AT THE HULL STATION.
A juryman - Did you know the deceased ? Yes, very well. There was no man in whose hands I would rather place my life than his.
The witness stated that personally he thought the switchman and station agent were grossly negligent in their duty. While he considered that their negligence was the primary cause of the accident, still he considered that deceased might have seen the switch open if he had looked out for it, as it is in such a position us to be oberved by trains going each way.
Mr. H. B. Spencer was next called. In reply to Mr. Latchford he said he did not think he asked Montgomery to interview Mailleux, the switchman. He had not seen Mailleux since the accident, nor had he any communication with him. Witness knew nothing of his whereabouts.
Mr. Latchford -Then I suppose be has not left for anything that you had suggested?
Witness - Not to my knowledge.
Mr. Latchford What kind of a switch do you call that at the Hull Station ?
Witness A standard yard switch. They had another ca!led the Cook switch. The object of the Cook switch was supposed to attain the safety of trains, but in his experience a train was just as liable to run off it as the standard yard switch. The only question be asked the station agent the day of the accident was why the switch came to be open for the siding. and he re-replied that he did not know. He asked the switchman the same question, and the switchman said he was positive that he locked it for the main line beiore the accident happened.
As there were quite a number of witnesses yet to call, the inquest was ajourned again till to-morrow evening. Summonses will be issued to-day for the arrest of the switchman and station agent.
Ottawa Citizen 7 April 1892
THE O'CONNELL INQUEST
A Number of Witnesses Examined and Again Adjourned.
The inquest on the death, of the late Michael O'Connell was resumed last evening each witness called, was examined at considerable length and owing to the list being unusually long, it was found necessary to adjourn the inquest again till Fridav evening.
Mr. H. B. Spencer was first examined about the papers that were in the pocket of deceased. He states he took them and gave them to an officer for safe keeping.
Mr. Spencer re-examined, said the statement that the C. P. R. was placing the Cook switch on all main lines as rapidly they could manafacture them was not true. He never knew of a Cook switch saving a train going at twenty miles an hour.
J. Kearney, the station agent was next called. In answer to the coroner as to why he was not at the last meeting to give evidence he said that he was not properly served. He was not afraid of anyone molesting him. When the accident happened he was standing on the platform. He could not say as to whether the telegraph targets were set for the train to stop or not. The targets were red, but were now faded. Station masters were ordered to examine the switches every five minutes before arrival of trains. He did not do so that day, because busy at other duties. Had instructions to instruct new operators in their work. The operator delivered freight from the shed three or four times a day. Never asked for more help, but I asked Mr. H. B. Spencer to have the old operator sent back to replace the green operator. He was advised not to come to give testimony. In answer to Mr. Scott, he would not say by whom, but by no one connected with the road.
Mr. Scott produced Hull Station books containing entries ot freight during the day. Witness was asked to see if the entries were correct and retired to do so.
Mr. Donaldson, superintendent of the C. A. R., he said, considered the Stubb switch on their road as the best for the climate.
Between stations it ran 50 miles an hour. To make our time it is necessary to run at that speed; running through stations they went 15 miles an hour.
The rule was not to run faster than 15 miles an hour, but if stations properly protected, ran at 50 miles sometimes per hour. In such cases the station agent should examine the switches ten minutes before arrival.
J.J Dusitte, night operator, said he went to work at 4.30 p.m. on the 29th. Kearney and Meilleur were in his office when the train came around the curve. Before it passed Kearney walked into his own office and then went out on the platform; before that Kearney had been helping him to make a report. Meilleur had been around a short time beiore the train arrived, his reason for continuing the work more than 12 hours was because he had been asked to relieve Morrison, the day operator. He knew all the business connected with his office, making car reports and billing freight.
Mr. Latchford - What did you say in that statement you signed, prepared by Mr. White, train reporter, about what Meilleur was doing five minutes before the train arrived?
Witness I swore that Meilleur had lots of time to attend to switch. Did not see Meilleur working for a short time before the arrival
Kearney then re-appeared after reviewing the books. He found them correct, but a couple of books were not there, including the freight book for the O. & G. V. Ry. He had not complained that he was unable to comply with rule ordering station agent to see that switch was adjusted five minutes before the trains arrived. Knew of no instance where rule was kept except where there was a special running, and then they would receive special orders to attend to the switch. Inquest adjourned until Friday.
Ottawa Citizen 9 April 1892
STILL NO VERDICT
The Inquest on the Late Michael O'Connell Again Adjourned.
Another adjournment was made last night in the inquest on the death of the late Michael O'Connell. Only two witnesses were examined. Hon. R. W Scott was present on behalf of the company and Mr. F. R Latchford for the friends of the deceased.
William Barbridy, engineer, testified that he had been running on the Soo train on different days for the past year and eight months, and was familiar with the Hull yard. His average run through that yard was from 25 to 35 miles an hour. As the engine crossed the public crossing at the east end of the station he could see the switch set at the west end of the yard for the main line. If he saw the switch open, he could close the steam off and put on the brakes in about one second. His next duty would be to throw the lever into reverse gear and open the sand box valve. Although going at 30 miles an hour, if he saw the signal from the public crossing, he thought he could stop the train by the time it got to the west switch.
Alexander Maillieur, the switchman was the other witness examined. He stated that the intervals between the passing trains were sufficient to give him time to attend to the switches.
In answer to the coroner he said he never had occasion to complain to the C. P. R. that the trains passed too often to allow him to attend to the switches. He never had a mishap with the switches. When he was not engaged with switches he worked in freight shed around the station and carried water to the station. He had asked the operator on the day of the accident when No. 3 (Soo train) was due and the operator said he did not know what No. 3 was. He had set the switch right at fifteen minutes after one on the day of the accident and took the key with him. His habit was to fix the switch for the main line every day after coming down from fixing the Aylmer witch (sic) and he had done so that day.
In answer to Mr. Latchford witness said his duties at the station were switchman, baggageman assistant, freight agent and choreman. There was too much work in that yard, at switching alone, for one man.
A few more witnesses were to be examined and the inquest adjourned again till Monday evening, when it is expected, a conclusion will be arrived at.
Ottawa Citizen 12 April 1892
WHO WERE TO BLAME.
Verdict as to the Death of Michael O'Conneil.
The Coroners Jury on the inquest as to the death of the late Michael O'Connell, completed their duty last evening, when after sitting four hours, they brought their verdict. They found that the deceased had come to his death, by reason of the Soo train on the C. P. R. running through an open switch and down embankment, on the 30th day of March. They censured the Station agent, Kearney, for not observing Rule 135. of the company, which stipulated that be should examine the switch five minutes before the incoming of a train. Through his negligence and that of the men under him - the switchman and the operator, the accident was caused. They strongly disapproved of the system of switch and target disconnecting, now in vogue, and were of the opinion that the speed of the train going through the Hull yard. was too fast, as it endangered life and property. In conclusion, the verdict read as follows :
We further severely censure the C. P. R. Company, for gross and inexplicable negligence in allowing their service to be so conducted.
In his charge to the jury. coroner Mark said: ''From the evidence it appears to me, the C.P.R. authorities are free from blame referring to the death of Michael O'Connell. By violating Rule 135 the Station master Kearney in my opinion, is in a degree responsible for the acciident.
Switchman Mollieur, though faithful in the performance of the same duty, as required ol him at 3.30 p.m. on March. the 30th, for twelve years now past, on that day and hour be failed to close the switch, and so contributed to the accident.
But the lamented Michael O'Connell, and his fireman, contributed principally to the accident, by not watching the signal on the switch referred to showing switch open, said signal being in clear view, at a distance that gave ample time for the stopping of the train and so avoid the accident.
You must realize the responsibility of an engineer, to watch for important signals of danger, designed to govern engineers, and in this case there was the signal of danger above the switch, and he had at hand all appliances necessary for controlling the train, it was his duty to watch the signal, and use the appliances and if he had done so. the accident evidently would not have occurred nor he have lost his life as a consequence.