Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area



1928, December 31 - Eight killed in a crossing collision at Cataraqui, CNR., Kingston sub.



Ottawa Citizen 31 December 1928

C.N.R. Flyer Kills 8 at Level Crossing
Shocking Tragedy Occures Three Miles East iof Kingston as Crack train Hits Automobile
Car Owned by Alex. Dupuis Of Cornwall, Ont.. is Wrecked at Cataraquii Earlv This Afternoon.
Former Casselman Ladv Is Among the Victims
Name Rosa Alma Desrosier Is Found in Roman Catholic Praver Book.
KINGSTON, Ont, Dec, 31. Eight persons two men, two women, two boys and two girls - met instant death at 1.30 p.m. today when the car in which they were riding was struck by an easthound Canadian National Railways train at a crossing in Cataraqui, near here.
There were no survivors.
After considerable delay owing to he fact that the bodies were badly mutitated, the dead have been identified as Alexander Dupuis. Cornwall, Ont., formerly of Proctor, Vermont, on his way to Peterboro where he was take up residence: Edgar Rivet: Cornwall; Mrs. Dupuis and Mrs. Rivet. and two boys and two girls, the children of Mrs. Dupuis.
The car was struck with terrific force and picked up on the fender of the speeding train. It was carried for half a mile along the track, its occupants being catapulted to the right of way. According to an eyewitness, the automobile was travelling about 15 miles an hour when the crash occurred. Engineer J. Whelan, in charge of the engine, stated that he did not see the car until it was on the tracks.
The scene at the accident was indescribable, the bodies of the victims being mutilated to such an extent that identification was not made until arms and limbs had been assembled and their belongings gathered together.
Coroner M. J. Morrison was rushed to the scene and announced that an inquest will be opened probably tonight.
On a pair of men's pyjamas picked up along the right of way was found the name "P. Johnson," while in a Roman Catholic prayer book was found the name of Rose Alma Desrosiers, Casselman, Ont. The name of Edgar Rivet, Cornwall, was also found in the same book.
The auto was struck fairly in the center as it mounted the crossing, which is a level one. The view on either side of the crossing is quite clear for considerable distance. It has been the scene of numerous accidents.
Thomas Burtch, who lives in the vicinity of the crossing, was apparently the only eye witness of the accident.
"I could see the train coming," said Mr. Burtch, "and I also saw the car. I noticed the driver of the car apparently put on the brakes and the car slowed down until it seemed to be going not more than 15 miles an hour when the crash came."
Engineer Whelan stated that he did not see the car until the moment of the crash.

Ottawa Journal 31 December 1928

Report Nine Dead in Motor Crash Near Cataraqui
Kingston, Ont., Dec. 31. - A report reaching here at 2 p.m., stated that nine persons had been killed in an automobile accident near Cataraqui. Detailed information is not yet available.

Ottawa Journal 1 January 1929

Didn't see auto until directly in front of engine
Crew tell version of level crossing tragedy in which eight lives were lost.
Brockville Ont., DEC. 31. - engineer James Whalen and fireman H. S. Dewey, both of Belleville, who were in charge of the engine hauling Canadian National train No. 14, when it hit an automobile and instantly killed its eight occupants at the Cataraqui highway crossing today, was still feeling badly shaken up when they came off duty on the arrival of the train here.
Suddenly appeared.
"I didn't see the car until it shot up the incline on to the track and was right in front of us," declared Engineer Whalen. "It was going north and could not be seen from the engine on account of the buildings which stand on the west side of the highway close to the railway."
The train was travelling 50 miles an hour, Whalen stated, and the engine hit the auto with terrific force just as it got immediately in front of the locomotive. The car was tossed up in front of the engine where it was held by the coupling beam and carried along in this position until the train was stopped. The rear of the car could be seen from the cab sticking out on the right. The engine block of the car was shattered and the remainder flattened so as to be hardly recognizable as having been an automobile.
Did not see it.
So quickly did the accident happen that neither engineer nor fireman saw how or when the bodies of the victims fell out. Apart from some damage to the steel pilot where it struck the car there was no injury to the locomotive which proceed with the train to Montreal.

Ottawa Citizen 3 January 1929

Negligence on part of car driver is blamed for deaths
Boys give dramatic recital of tragedy before jury at inquest in Kingston.
Kingston, Jan. 2 - the folly of motorists trying to best the train to level crossings was dramatically told this evening by two small boys at the inquest into the deaths of Alexandra Dupuis, one time of Proctor, Vermont; his wife and four small children, and Edgar Rivet and his wife of Cornwall, all of whom were instantly killed on the afternoon of the year's end at Cataraqui, a hamlet about four miles from Kingston, when they lost out in the dash to cross ahead of the Canadian National Chicago-to-Montreal fast train by a hair breadth margin.
The stories of the two small boys, Freddie and Arthur Sparks, age 13 and 9 years, lost nothing of its dramatic force by the simplicity of the telling. In brief the gist of the evidence was that they saw an automobile approaching the crossing and at the same time heard the whistle of the approaching train and saw it speeding towards the scene of the fatality. Freddie held out his hand to stop the car and as it drew up beside him shouted to the driver, "Hey mister, here comes the train if you don't stop you'll get killed."
Could make it.
The answer was an exclamation followed by the remark, "I can make it." Then, according to Freddie, "The car kept on down the road. I knew the train was going to hit it and I turned and watched. When it came to a stone house, close to the track it seemed to slaken speed, but it kept on and the train struck it. I then ran home and told mother."
The evidence of both lads was approximately the same and both was steadfast in their statements of warning the driver and of his reply. The lads explained that they were walking along the road to Kingston, hoping to get a free ride, and that the warning of the approaching train came to them from the usual egineers' crossing signals.
Heard warning whistle.
E. Sleeman and Thomas Burtch, who lives close to the crossing, both gave evidence of the locomotive whistling for the crossing and of the speed of the approaching automobile which they placed at about 30 to 35 miles an hour: Sleeman stated that while he heard the trains. warning whistles he did not see it, but he watched the motor car through a window of his home.
"I knew from its position to the crossing and its speed that a collision was inevitable." He said, and added the significant phrase, "I have seen a good many cars go over the crossing and some of them made the hair stand on my head."
Engineer Whalen and firemen Dewey stated that the locomotive was travelling at a speed of about 55 miles an hour and that all crossing signals had been given, the engine bell ringing even until the car was struck and two long and two short blasts of the whistle  sounded, the last blast being given not more than 100 ft from the crossing where the car was struck.
Ask crossing gates.
After hearing the evidence the jury were only a short time out when they returned the following verdict:
"We, the jury find  the death of the party was due to negligence of the driver of the car and petition the Canadian National Railways company to have gates erected at the crossing."



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