Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1924, February 27 - Collision between passenger and freight train at Mallorytown, CNR, Kingston sub., four fatalities.

Ottawa Citizen  27 February 1924

The Dead and the Injured Engineer Are All From Belleville, Ont. Accident Occurred Near Mallorytown Station. During Heavy Fog, and is Attributed to Lack of Precaution on Part of Engineer of Passenger Train, Who Had Been Advised of Presence of Freight Train in His Path Both Lines of Road Blocked by Wreck
BROCKVILLE, Ont, Feb. 2? - When Canadian National passenger train No. 20 met in collision with manifest freight immediately east of Mallorytown station at four o'clock this morning, an engineer and fireman lost their lives, a fireman died shortly afterwards of injuries, and a third was seriously hurt, so gravely that his life is despaired of.
The dead are:
Neil A. Woodcock, Belleville, engineer on train No. 3501.
James A. Ritchie, Belleville, fire-man on train No. 20.
William C. Carrlgan. Belleville, fireman on train No. 3501.
The injured:
Albert Boyes, Belleville, engineer on train No. 20. Not expected to recover.
Occurred In Heavy Fog.
The accident occurred in a heavy fog, but is attributed to lack of precaution on the part of Engineer Boyes, who is said to have been advised of the presence of the freight train in his path. Earlier in the night one of the cars on the freight train, which was originally also bound eastward, suffered a broken truck between Mallorytown and Lyn. and while repairs were being made the engine was detached and came to Brockville to replenish its supply of water and fuel. The return trip was made to Mallorytown and then down the eastbound track where the engine was attached to the rear end of its train. It was intended to convey it to Mallorytown.  The train was moving westerly with the engine tender first when No. 20 travelling at high speed, emerged from the fog with such suddenness that the enginemen had no chance of escape. Both engines were badly damaged and it was necessary to chop out the sides of the cabs to release the bodies of the dead employes.
Second Class Mails Burn.
The baggage car on No. 20 also caught fire and all second class mail was burnt. The lock bag mails were successfully removed. When news of the accident was flashed to Brockville a relief train was hastily despatched to the scene of the accident carrying Dr. T. F. Robertson, Dr. A. H. Judson, Dr. I. J. Williams, and six nurses, the Misses Hamilton, Drummond and Spence of general hospital staff, and the Misses Dillsbough, Johnston and Maloney, private nurses. This train returned from Mallorytown at 7 o'clock, bringing to the general hospital Engineer Boyes, who is not expected to recover, and Fireman Carrigan, who later died. Coroner Dr. W. Fred Jackson, accompanied by Chief of Police William Burk and County Attorney Brown left at 9 o'clock for Mallorytown for the purpose of opening an inquest.
Both tracks of the main line were blocked by the accident, and it was impossible for members of the wrecking crews to approach the wreck for some time owing to the intense heat of the burning baggage car.

 MONTREAL, Feb. 27 The following report was issued from Canadian National Railway headquarters this morning in reference to a wreck at Mallorytown, Ont.:
"At 4 o'clock this morning, at Mallorytown, Ont., train No. 20, eastbound from Toronto to Montreal, struck extra freight No. 3501, also eastbound, about 100 yards east of Mallorytown station. Engineer N. A. Woodcock, of the extra, and Fireman Ritchie, of the Toronto-Montreal train, were killed, and Engineer Albert Boyes, of No. 20. and Fireman William Carrigan. of the extra, were seriously injured. The wreckage of the two engines caught fire and also the storage mail car of No. 20. The fire was handled by the crew with the aid of fire extinguishers and snow, and the larger part of the contents ot the mail car was salvaged.
"No passengers were injured, and those in the Pullmans were not disturbed. Dr. Hissell. of Mallorytown was on the scene immediately, rendering such assistance as possible, and a relief train was immediately sent from Brockville with three doctors and six nurses, and the two injured men were taken to the Brockville hospital. The freight had been delayed on account of an accident to a truck and had been split to permit repairs, the rear section being moved west by the engine under the charge of Engineer Woodcock and, was standing near the Mallorytown station at the time of the accident
"The cause of the accident is being investigated."

Ottawa Journal 28 February 1924

Makes Four Dead In the Smash At Mallorytown.
BROCKVILLE, Ont , Feb 28 -The death roll In the Mallorytown collision on the Canadian National Railway early yesterday morning mounted to four last night when Albert Boyes, of BeIleville, engineer on passenger train No. 20. which crashed into a freight train, died at the General Hospital of his injuries. From the first it was realized that there was no hope for his recovery.
It developed at the inquest, which was opened at Mallorytown. that to remove the body of Engneer Woodcock from the cab of bis locomot!ve it was necessary to remove the legs from the body. Heroic deeds were performed in removing the bodies of the men from the debris and great credit is given to Egbert Mallory, of Mallorytown. for his valor in releasing Engineer Boyes from the cab of his engine. In spite of the terrible burns whirh he received, Boyes never lost consciousness and directed Mallory in the work of rescue. So intense was the heat that Mallory was obliged to discard articles of clothing one by one until he worked clad only in his trousers. The clothing which he removed he satursted in water, carried by assistants, and wrapping it about the imprisoned man, kept him from perishing in the flames sustaining painful burns himself while doing so.

Chesterville Record 28 February 1924

When Canadian National eastbound passenger train number 20 and freight train number 3501 met in a head-on collision at a point just east of Mallorytown station at 4 o'clock yesterday morning two employees of the railroad were killed, one has sincedied and another is so seriously injured that his recovery is despaired of.
List of dead and injured
The official statement by the Canadian National Railways headquarters on the collision is as follows:
Identical wording to that in the Citizen above.

Kemptville Weekly Advance 6 March 1924

Belleville Enginemen Perish in Worst Disaster in Anals of Railroading In This Vicinity

Brockville, Feb 28. Travelling at high rate of speed through a heavy fog on its eastward flight from Toronto to Montreal, Canadian National passenger train No. 20 met in collision with a freight train at a point immediately to the east of the public crossing at Mallorytown shortly after four yesterday morning. The accident, the worst ever to occur in connection with a railroad in this vicinity, took a toll of three lives, all concerned being employees of the railway, and injuring a fourth so gravely that his death is hourly expected..
The dead are :
Neil A. Woodcock, Belleville, locomotive engineer.
James A. Ritchie, Belleville, locomotive fireman.
William C. Kerigan, Belleville, locomotive fireman.
In the General Hospital here, terribly burned and with his life despaired of, is Albert Boyes, of Belleville, engineer on train No. 20.
The accident is attributed to heavy fog and to failure on the part of Engineer Boyes, at the throttle of locomotive No. 5294, hauling No. 20, to observe signals which are declared to have been placed to protect the movement of the freight train.
Freight Train Was Stalled
The freight train concerned in the collision was No. 490,  an eastbound manifest train, en route from Belleville to Brockville. It was in charge of Conductor Adam Lackie, 62 Beecher street, with Frank Moore, 71 Perth street, and L. E. Savage, Devonshire Apartments, as brakemen. Earlier in the night one of the cars belonging to this train had broken a truck and its progress was stayed until repairs could be effected. It was consequently stalled at a point between Mallorytown and Lyn. In order that the rear section of this train might be moved to Mallorytown and the line cleared, engine 3501, originally hauling an eastbound extra freight train and in charge of Engineer Woodcock, with William C. Kerrigan as firemen, was attached to the rear end, together with another engine despatched from Brockville and in charge of Engineer Frank E. Stagg, 357 King street west, with W. D. Carlisle, George street, as fireman. When Mallorytown was approached, Engineer Stagg's locomotive was cut off in order that it might be attached to the head end of the train, and Engineer Woodcock's locomotive, tender first, was left on the train. A moment after Engineer Stagg took the switch, No. 20, running behind schedule time and travelling at a high rate of speed passed Mallorytown station and piled into the engine and cars. The passenger train was in charge of Conductor J. Beckstead, of Montreal. Albert Boyes, Belleville, was engineer, and James A. Ritchie, Belleville, fireman. The force of the impact drove No. 5294 into and on top of the tender of No. 3501 and piled the storage baggage car directly in its rear on top of the wreckage. Four cars on the freight train were also derailed and damaged .
Engineer Instanly [sic] Killed
Pinned in his seat, Engineer Woodcock was apparehtly instantly killed. Fireman Kerrigan was able to jump, but not before be had sustained injuries which later proved fatal. In the engine of the passenger train Fireman Ritchie was burned to death and it was not until five hours after the accident that it was found possible to remove his body. Engineer Boyes was also caught by his arm, which was burned almost to a crisp, but by great effort it was found possible to release him from his imprisonment.
Fire starting from one of the engines soon ignited the storage baggage car, with its contents of mail in transit from Toronto to eastbound points and added to the trials of those engaged in an effort to free the injured enginemen or to clear the line. In this car there was no baggageman in charge, and Isaac McNeill, 108 Buell street, baggageman on duty in the second car, escaped without a scratch.
The full shock of the collision appears to have been borne by the storage baggage car with the result that none of the passenger coaches suffered serious mishap. Some of those in the sleeping cars were, indeed, said to have been unaware of the accident until morning dawned.
The Work of Rescue
Trainmen immediately commenced the work of rescue of their comrades and Dr. E. S. Bissell, Mallorytown, was summoned. At the same time a relief train, manned by three physicians and six nurses, was despatched from Brockville. This train carried Dr. T. F. Robertson, Dr. A. H. Judson, Dr. E. J. F. Williams and the Misses Hamilton. Drummond and Spence, of the General Hospital staff, and the Misses Dillabough, Johnston and Maloney, private nurses. The relief train, bearing the two injured enginemen, reached here on its return at 7 o'clock and they were taken to the General Hospital. At 10.15 oclock Kerrigan succumbed to the terrible injuries to his chest and back, Boyes, badly burned, is expected to die hourly.
News of the disaster spread rapidly through the adjoining section and many residents took part in the work of rescue. On account of the fire it was not possible to approach the wreck for some length of time and not until noon was one of the tracks cleared and traffic resumed. In the meantime passengers on trains Nos. 20 and 16 had been held at the scene of the wreck and upon the arrival of these trains here they were fed. The departure of pestbound passenger train No. 27 was also delayed until noon.
Dr. W. Fred Jackson, senior coroner, accompanied by Chief of Police Burke and County Crown Attorney M. M. Brown, left at noon for Mallorytown, where an inquest was opened. It is expected that, in view of the deaths of the engimnen concerned. it will be exceedingly difficult to ascertain if the signals were observed or not.

Morrisburg Leader 29 February 1924

Reported just the C.N.R. Report set out in the Citizen above.

Ottawa Citizen 29 February 1924

(Special to The Citizen.)
BROCKVILLE, Feb., 28. A verdict of accidental death was returned here today at an inquest into the deaths of the late William Kerrigan and Albert J. Boyes, who died at a local hospital from injuries received early Wednesday morning in a collsion between a C. N. R. freight train and C. N. R. passenger train No. 20 at Mallorytown. An inquest into the deaths of the engine crew of the passenger train will be resumed on Wednesday next. Egbert Mallory of Mallorytown is given great praise by residents of that place for his efforts in releasing Engineer Boyes from his wrecked engine with fire raging on the mail car of the passenger train close by them.

Ottawa Citizen 6 March 1924

Inquest on wreck victims adjourned
BROCKVILLE. Ont.. March The coroner's inquest was resumed here tonight into the deaths of Engineer Woodcock and Fireman Ritchie, two of the engine crew who. along with two companions, all of Belleville, lost their lives in the collision on the C.N. R. at Mallorytown last Wednesday. After considerable evidence, the hearing was again adjourned.
Only by means of observing signals set at Mallorytown could the engineer of train number 20, the passenger train, have been aware of the crippled freight train in its path, it was stated by E. O. Keeler, train despatcher on duty at Belleville. Nothing but clearance orders were issued to this train from the time it left Belleville, and merely a verbal order was communicated to the operator at Mallorytown to be given to number 20 in order that it might be switched to the opposite track. The Mallorytown operator had notified him that the freight train was fully protected by order board, semaphore and flagman, and although witness knew of the existence of fog, he took no extra precaution because he expected that the main line would be clear before number 20 reached Mallorytown. Reliance was placed wholly upon the ability of the engineer and fireman on the train to observe the signals, and no other precaution was taken.

Ottawa Citizen 14 March 1924

Greater Precautions Needed, Says Jury Investigating Mallorytown Accident.
BROCKVILLE. Ont , March 14. The coroner's jury investigating the cause of the recent fatal wreck on the C.N.R., near Mallorytown, at 12.30 this mornong, returned a verdict that death of the victims was accidental, largely through the extraordinary condition of the weather. In view of this, in addition to a disabled freight train blocking tha track ahead of No. 20. greater precautions for the safely of the lives involved should have been taken by those in positions of responsibility, it was stated in a rider.
Got No Signals.
"I didn't get any signals." was the statement of Albert J. Boyes, engineer on the ill-fated number twenty C.N.R. passenger train that collided with freight train No. 430 at Mallorvtown early on the morning of February 27, to Dr. E. S. Bissell, of Mallorytown. shortly after he had been released from his engine, and who later succumbed to his injuries in hospital here. Others who lost their lives in the mishap were Neil Woodcock and W. C. Kerrigan, engineer and fireman of the freight train, and James D. Ritchie, who was fireman on the passenger engine with Boyes.
K. O. Keeler. of Belleville, despatcher on duty, was recalled, and said that train No. 20 had made up five minutes' time between Gananoque Junction and Mallorytown. travelling at an average speed of more than a mile a minute. If Engineer Boyes had been unable to see the signals, he should in any case have stopped, he stated.
James A. Beckstead, of Montreal, conductor of the twenty, learned at Belleville of the derailment of the freight train at Mallorytown, and he advised Engineer Boyes of this condition, with the further statement that it was expected the line would be clear in time. He received the same information from the operator at Kingston Junction. He heard no torpedoes explode, saw no flare, and the first intimation he had of anything wrong was when the collision occurred.
All of the witnesses agreed that a heavy fog prevailed on the morning in question.
Not one of the numerous railwaymen examined either heard torpedoes exploding or saw flares burning.

Return to Main Page of Railway Accidents

Updated 24 February 2022