|Andrew Jeanes writes (Jaunary 2020)|
On Tuesday, December 2, 1902, a Grand Trunk Railway freight train was stopped at Morrisburg when it was struck from behind by a second freight train. James Murphy, engineer of the second train, was killed. Michael Devaney, Murphy’s fireman, died ten days later in hospital from injuries received in the wreck.
A coroner’s jury in Montreal found that William Robinson and Daniel Welsh—the stopped freight train’s conductor and brakeman, respectively—were responsible for the wreck and recommended that both men be charged with manslaughter. The evidence was that Robinson and Welsh had failed to provide adequate protection for the rear of their train until it was too late to prevent the collision.
When Robinson and Welsh came before a Montreal court a few days later, the judge ruled that he had no jurisdiction because the incident had taken place in Ontario. Both men were set free. I have not been able to find any news reports on this case after that.
From the Montreal Gazette, 3 December 1902
A Montreal Man Lost His Life at Morrisburg.
Morrisburg, Out., December 22. (note wrong dateline) In a rear end collision of Grand Trunk train at Morrisburg this morning Engineer James Murphy was killed, Fireman Michael Devaney was fatally injured, and Arthur Harris, a brakesman, was seriously hurt. The three men belong to Montreal.
The accident occurred at 6 o'clock, when a train, detained here, was crashed into by a heavy freight, which telescoped its way through the van of the leading train and several other cars. Debris was piled up high on the tracks and a portion of the wreckage caught fire.
Engineer Murphy, of the engine which struck the standing train, was caught in the wreck and his remains were found under the tender, which jammed into his (sic) caboose.
His fireman, Michael Devaney, was hurled several feet away, but he was terribly scalded. He was brought to Montreal and sent to the General Hospital where the physicians have slight hope of his recovery.
Harris, the brakeman, was picked up badly bruised and perhaps internally injured, but his recovery is expected.
Fog is ascribed as the cause of the accldent. '
The dead engineer lived at 14 Richmond street, Point St, Charles, Montreal, where he leaves a wife and four children. Devaney and Harris are also residents of Point St. Charles. Devaney'g home is at 12 Grand Trunk street, Montreal.
Ottawa Citizen, 3 December 1902 - illegible
Ottawa Journal, 3 December 1902
ENGINEER KILLED IN A COLLISION
G. T. R. freights. Came Together.
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(Special to The Journal, Montreal, Dec.3 - A collision took place at Morrishurg yesterday between two freight trains which resulted in the death of Engineer James Murphy. An east-bound freight train was on the siding there with the signata set, when a set-ond eastbound freight came along and crashed into it. The engineer of the second train. James Murphy, 12 Richmond street, Montreal, was killed and his fireman, named Devenay. also of this city, was badly hurt. Murphy leaves a wife and five children.
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From the Windsor Star 3 December 1902
This article has an error, referring to Murphy being trapped under “his caboose."
BURNT TO DEATH. G.T.R.
Engineer Murphy Killed Collision at Morrisburg.
Morrisburg, Dec. 3. A serious rear-end collision occurred at the Grand Trunk station here yesterday morning, by which J. Murphy, engine driver, was killed, and three other train hands were seriously bruised and scalded. At 6 oclock a freight train was detained here by a hot box, and while it was being attended to another freight with two engines crashed into the van, telescoping a number of cars. The debris was piled up on both tracks, completely stopping traffic.
The wreck immediately took fire from an oil car. One of the men was thrown clear of the right of way, and was found painfully bruised in a field across the tracks. Murphy was caught in the wreck, and his charred remains were found under the tender of the engine that crashed into his caboose. The three injured men received prompt medical attendance, and wifi likely recover. Traffic was delayed about half a day.
From the Montreal Gazette, 13 December 1902
SUCCUMBS TO INJURIES
Michael Devaney, the Grand Trunk Railroad fireman who was injured in the wreck at Morrlburg, Ont., ten days ago, when Engineer James Murphy was killed, succumbed to his injuries yesterday afternoon at the Genera! Hospital. Devaney was scalded all over the body and from the first the physicians entertained little hope for his recovery. Coroner McMahon will hold an inquest this afternoon at 2 o'clock.
From the Montreal Gazette, 22 December 1902
CORONER'S JURY HOLDS ROBINSON AND WELSH
Death of Devaney Alleged to Have Been Due to Their Negligence.
The inquest into the death of Michael Devaney, the Grand Trunk Railway fireman, who died in the General Hospital last week from injuries sustained in the railway wreck near Morrisburg, Ont., was concluded at the Morgue Saturday before Coroner McMahon. The jury returned a verdict charging William Robinson and Daniel Welsh with manslaughter.
Robinson was conductor, and Welsh a brakesman, of the train that owing to an accident was brought to a stop near the statlon at Morrisburg.
The train of which James Murphy, was engineer, and Michael Devaney,fireman, ran into the rear end of Robinson's train, and as a result of the collision Murphy was killed and Devaney fatally injured.
The evidence showed that until twelve minutes after the train of which Robinson was in charge had stopped on the main line, was any one sent back to flag the train that was coming behind, and then it was too late to prevent the collision.
The trainmen claimed that the semaphore was there to protect any train that was coming behind them, but according to the testimony submitted, the rules of the road state clearly that they should have flagged the train, and had this been done it is alleged the accident would no doubt have been avoided.
Robinson and Welsh were held in personal securities of $400 each and four securities of $200 to appear before Judge Lafontaine this morning.
From the Montreal Gazette 25 December 1902
BOTH MEN SET FREE
Court Has No Jurisdiction in the Devaney Case.
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William Robinson and Daniel Walsh, the railway conductor and brakeman who were held last Saturday by the Coroner's jury on a charge of manslaughter in connection with the death of Michael Devaney, who died in the General Hospital as the result of injures sustained in the wreck on the Grand Trunk Railway near Morrisburg,Out., three week ago, were arraigned before Judge Choquet yesterday morning to answer to the charge. Judge Cnoquet decided that he had no jurisdiction in the case, as the crime, if any had been committed, was outside of the province of Quebec. The accused could not be arraigned in this province for a crime that had been committed in Ontario. If Robinson and Welsh were to be held on a charge of manslaughter in connection with the death of Devaney they would have to be arraigned before a magistrate at Morrisburg. Robinson and Welsh were allowed to go. It is not known as yet what action will now be taken in the matter.