Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1908, January 3 - Collision between a street car and a freight train, Beechwood Avenue, CPR., Sussex Street sub., one fatality

Ottawa Citizen 4 January 1908


This photo shows the vestibule of the upturned street car, as it was carried 100 yards by the backing freight car

This photo shows the rack of the car from which all vestiges of the body have been torn and as it lay on the track after the collision. The roof just shows in the foreground.

These views give an idea of the effects of yesterday's wreck on the street car line in Clarkstown. They were taken for the Citizen immediately after the wreck.
The accident happened at 1.16 o'clock  A St. Patrick street car was coming from New Edinburgh towards the city. It was crossing the St. Lawrence and Ottawa track when a heavy freight car. which was being shunted in to the New Edinburgh yard, struck it squarely, cutting it in two and shoving it for the distance of a city block.
A number of men under Mr. Sydney Sherwood were engaged in excavating for a sewer under the crossing. A large deep trench had been made, and the earth was piled up to the height of about nine feet. The workmen saw the train coming, and shouted to the motorman. Mr. Wank, evidently thinking that the motorman would stop before he reached the crossing, stood against the bank of clay. The freight car caught the street car squarely, and shoved it right off the rails and against the banks of earth on each side of the railway, literally crowding it through a space one half the length of itself. One end of the car caught Mr. Wank and crushed him against the bank. It was all over in an instant. The woodwork of the car was completely shattered and stripped from the truck, which was shoved along the track for some distance. From the appearance of the wreck after the accident it is wonderful how the passengers were not all killed. The freight was going at a speed of about twelve miles per hour, according to the judgment of the men who saw the accident.
Speaking of the accident, Mr. Hutcheson, superintendent, said he was at a loss to know how the accident could have happened. It was the rule for the conductor and motorman to ascertain if the track was clear before crossing, he said. There was only one train on that road per day, but as it passed at no set hours the men in charge of the street cars on that line were cautioned to be on the lookout for danger at that crossing. The crossing was not considered a dangerous one, as there as an unobstructed view both ways for at least half a mile. The sun was shining in the motorman's face, and this may have prevented him from seeing the train. His attention perhaps was drawn to the workmen at the crossing and it may have been on that account that he failed to observe the train. He was so badly shaken up by the accident that he was unable to give his side of the story.

Ottawa Citizen 8 January 1908

Of New Edinburgh Crossing Fatality.
Car Stopped, Started and Failed To Cross C. P. R. Tracks.

Coroner Baptie. with Crown Attorney Ritchie. Solicitor W. H. Curie, and C. J. R. Bethune, opened the inquest last night into the facts surrounding the death of August Wank, who was killed Friday in a collision between a C.P.R. freight train and a St. Patrick street car, at ths crossing on Beechwood avenue. A number of witnesses were examined, and the inquiry adjourned until nest Tuesday. No street car witnesses were heard, some of them being in hospital.
Several witnesses said the freight was moving "at a fast rate," the trainman said eight or nine miles, and further stated that regular signals were given, whistles sounded, and bells rung. A feature was evidence to the effect that the street car stopped some distance away, and again just on or near the C.P.R. track.
Sidney Sherwood, corporation foreman in charge of the gang, said he heard the freight whistle near the curve, whereupon witness ran and warned his men of danger. The car, when he first saw it, was stopped at the beginning of the curve about 50 feet from the tracks. Witness waved his arms, and the street car stopped with its fender on the C.P.R. rails. The motorman then apparently saw the freight for the tirst time, and speeded up his car, it being hit as it was dead on the center of the rails. Witness had seen no brakeman to whom he could signal, nor could he say if any bell had been rung. The C.P.R. train pushed the street car about 175 feet.
The motorman, after the accident, when met by the witness, had said.
"My God. is there no one to help me."
The C.P.R. train was going about 12 to 14 miles per hour, and the engineer was looking out the river side of the engine.
The motorman, said witness, to a juror, was watching the men at work in the drain, and did not see the C.P.R. train till about fifteen feet away, when he stopped on the tracks.
Dr. M. O. Klotz deposed to medical facts relative to death, which was due to hemorrhage and shock. The lower part of the body was badly crushed, and both thigh bones broken.
Mrs. Valido Marleau. 14 Beechwood avenue Clarkstown, an eye-witness. said that the train was going fast at the time. She had taken the motorman into her house after the crash, but was rather vague as to the latter incident, as she had seen both the train and car from the window, and then run to the door at the moment of impact.
Mrs. Mary Karney, Beechwood avenue, shed no light on the matter. She heard no bell or whistle. Mrs. Celia Normand, another eye-witness, said the "car came fast."
Mr. J. Whelan only saw the body after the accident, but a woman, another resident, near the accident, repeated in poor English the words "the train come fast." She heard no whistle or bell.
Matthew Moran, C.P.R, engineer, on extra train No. 1,236, that hit the car, then took the stand. The train was one of three freight cars, with a fireman, two brakesmen, and, as witness thought, Conductor Crawford. One brakesman was on the rear car, under no special orders, and gave the back up signal at the Y, and the stop signal just before the accident with the car. The latter signal came just before the crash. The bell was rung and the whistle blown. The engine was running at eight miles.
The coroner pressed for an explanation as to why the cars had backed in, to which witness said that he had to, in order to avoid going into a blind switch. He had made a running shunt, or was intending to, at the Sussex street yards.
Mr. Ritchie: "Why did you not stop your train before coming to the crossing? "
Mr. Moran: "We are not supposed to."
Mr. Ritchie: "The Railway act says you are. Mr. Ritchie then read the rule as to stopping when crossing a main junction. But witness read another rule where the absence of a flag man obviated any stop. This rule seemed to apply to the stop in question, and Mr. Ritchie proceeded as to brakes. There were air brakes on the three cars. Engineer Moran had not seen the street car at all, and besides the fireman's cry of  "Whoa!" there was a definite signal from the rear, but the two came together at the instant of impact. The brakesman was about ten feet from the rear end of the car, and did not jump. Witness thought the conductor was in one of the cars, a potato car, but he was not on the train at all, it seems.
 Jeremiah Crawford, conductor, said he had to remain with the rear end of the train at Chaudlere junction.
Martin O'Neil, the fireman, testified to ringing the bell at the crossing. He said the car had stopped after making the curve, and he thought was going to let the train pass. It began again, and was hit, witness crying "Whoa!" as the crash occurred.
Geo. Bennett, brakesman, was on ths tender of the engine, and heard the whistles and bell ringing. The street car stopped about twenty feet away. and then started, the train being "three or four cars away" at the time. He say [sic] a man trying to stop the street car. but fail. The motorman seemed to be looking st the train.
Ed. McCarthy, rear brakeman, said both bell and whistle sounded. The car was not seen until it stopped after the curve, when it began to speed up. Tne train was about four cars away. It was then the stop signal was given and the cry uttered to "anyone who could prevent the accident." Mr. McCarthy said eight or nine miles at hour was their speed.
The inquest then adjourned until next Tuesday.

Ottawa Citizen 15 January 1908

Conflict of Evidence as to Events Leading up to Accident
The August Wank inquest had its second hearing last night at the police court. Coroner Baptie, Attorney Ritchie, W. H. Curle, and C. J. Bethune being on the bench, and a dozen witnesses being heard. The next hearing, which was fixed for next Tuesday, is expected to be the final session.
Whether there was any bell sounded or whistle blown, or whether there was a brakesman on the freight train, seemed to be doubtful topics.
The first witness, F. E. Perney, after describing the wounded motorman's appearance and the work of rescue, went on to state his own experience. As he was walking near the crossing he heard Foreman Sherwood shout to the motorman, and, as the car still approached, witness shouted as well. The street car being less than ten feet away before the motorman saw the train, it was hit an instant later, as the motor-man began to slacken speed. The car was dead on the center of the tracks when struck, and carried away. Witness heard no bells or whistles, and thought the train was going at fifteen miles per hour. When first seen, the street car was going so slowly, witness thought it was about to stop.
Pressed for an answer, witness said he heard no bell, nor whistle, and remembered that at the time of the impact. Afterwards, he said, his attention was taken up with the train and car, and he could not say whether the whistle or any bell had sounded.
Mrs. Alice Whelan deposed to having heard the train whistle, and, on looking from her window, saw the accident.
Emile Dube, a boy, and C. Robin, both testified, the latter referring to the Young rendering plant as the "glue factory." They both said there was no brakesman on the freight cars.
Albert Roymas did not see any brakesman on the train, nor had he ever seen a conductor get out and go ahead of his car to see if the way was clear. This was done the afternoon of the accident, after it had occurred.
John Loft heard no bell or whistle before the crash, and said that the train backed in quickly and noiselessly. Witness became mixed in trying to make a diagram for the jury, using his finger to trace an imaginary plan.
Several others testified, one of whom declared that when he first saw the approaching train there was a man on top of the second box car, but the brakesman disappeared as the train came on. Still another said the train whistled three or four times, and the motorman drove his car on to the tracks.

Ottawa Citizen 22 January 1908

In Connection with Crossing Fatality.
Car Crew Swore Crossing Regulations were Never Observed.
"That August Wank came to his death on January 3rd, on Beechwood avenue as a result of a collision between a C. P. R. freight train and car No. 58 of the Ottawa Electric Railway company. If rule No. 15 of the rule book of the Ottawa Electric Railway company, and Section 278 of the Railway act had been carried out, no collision would have occurred. We also censure the Ottawa Electric Railway company for not seeing to it that that rule was enforced, and the C. P. R. for running trains backwards on its main line at so great a speed within the city."
The foregoing verdict was arrived at, last night, after a prolonged inquiry by Coroner Baptie's jury into the recent New Edinburgh fatality. two jurors dissenting. Rather interesting evidence was given by the motorman and the conductor. The former cannot read and can write his name with a little trouble. Neither of the men, they stated on oath, paid any attention to the rules of the company regarding crossings of steam roads; and inspectors of the company, the conductor alleged, had frequently seen these orders violated..
Conductor Emery Soubilere testified "under protection," a somewhat confusing term to the witness. On January 3, witness was in charge of the car in question. The car stopped on the curve as the trolley slipped off, and, in the meantime, as the pole was being replaced, a passenger got on. Two bells were given to start the car.  Witness did not see the train backing up as he was busy collecting the fare, and watching his own car. Witness, while in the service for two years, was only a conductor for three weeks prior to the accident. However, he was quite familiar with St. Patrick street route, having traversed it for some nine months. The present rules contained one (No. 15)) to the effect that the conductor must get off his car at all steam railway crossings, look both ways and then give the "go ahead" signal, the motorman not moving till he, too, had looked and was sure his car was clear.
Did you observe this rule on the day of the accident?"
'No. I thought the motormsn could see as well as I could. I never went ahead of a car in my life at a crossing and while I was motorman, for eight months, I never saw one go ahead, either. I have gone over that crossing with inspectors on the car with me. and I never got off; nor have I ever had orders to stop and go ahead of the car."
Witness said he heard no bell or whistle before the crash; nor did he hear anyone shouting.
Questioned further as to the rules. Conductor Soubilere said the old rule book, that he had in his pocket at tho time of the accident, was at home, but it was the same as the one produced.
"You knew the rule about going forward of the car and then signalling the motorman?"
"Yes. I knew the rule, but no one ever seemed to observe it and so I did not. I never thought of the rule on the day in question."
Mr. Curie: "Are you in the employ of the company?'
Witness: "No not since the accident. I may say I was given a set of rules two years ago, and read them over."
When witness came to, after the crash, he was lying almost on top of Wank, the dead man.
Hermann Fliegel, the motorman, said he had always been in the company's employ as a motor-man, joining the service a year and nine months ago. He was given a rule book when he joined, but he did not read it. He was told by his fellows workmen as to the rules. As to the rule of stopping at steam railway crossings he did not know anything about it.
The witness said he could not read, when asked why he had not read the rules. He could not write either, but said he could "get along well enough to make out on his car," and write his name. When applying for his job he had another man write out his letter and he signed it. He was never asked by a company official whether he could read or write. He bore out the evidence of the conductor as to the alleged neglect of the crossing rule. He said, too, that he had slowed up his car to pass men on the edge of the trench beside the tracks and did not see nor hear the train.
Mr. Adlolphus Parker, Eardley, Que., a passenger on the street car, said he was sitting In the rear of the car when it was struck. He saw and heard nothing.

Ottawa Citizen 28 May 1908

Mr. J.C. Grant has issued a writ on behlf of Mr. George McBean against the C.P.R. and the Ottawa Electric railway for $5,000 damages. He was injured internally in the collison between the C.P.R. train and the street car on St. patrick's street bridge.

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