|Ottawa Citizen 26 June 1929|
Remarkable Escape of Many Persons As Ottawa-Montreal Passenger Train In Crash
C.N.R. Train Runs Operi Swtch. Plows Into Freight Cars, Demolishes Corner of Alexandria Station. Much Wreckage. Fireman Only One Hurt, Injured as He Jumps
Alexandria, Ont., June 25th - when Canadian National Railway train number 50, from Ottawa to Montreal, carrying about 150 passengers, ran into an open switch about 500 feet west of the station here this afternoon, it plowed into a string of freight cars placed on the siding and pushed them over the open end of the siding into the station, demolishing the south-west corner.
Fireman A. E. Ricketts, of Montreal, the only person to receive an injury, suffered a broken collarbone, severe bruises and possible internal injuries, when he jumped from the locomotive shortly after it came to rest after plowing up several feet of the roadbed. The train was in charge of conductor George Keeler, of Montreal. Paul Lalonde, also of Montreal, was engineer. He jumped immediately after his fireman, but did not receive any injuries. The superintendent of the Montreal division, Alex McNaughton, was notified of the wreck, and he ordered the train in charge of conductor Harry Banfield, Hawkesbury, running from Hawkesbury to Glen Robertson the station east of here, to the scene of the accident, and when it arrived the two day coaches and a parlour car of the wrecked train were coupled on to it and taken to Coteau, where another engine was procured for the remainder of the trip to Montreal..
The passengers arrived in Montreal 45 minutes late. Mr. McNaughton arrived here on the six o'clock train to take charge of the wrecking crews and to gather particulars for the investigation, which will be held in Montreal this morning for the purpose of determining who was responsible for the switch being open. The main line was not blocked at any time, and the service between Montreal and Ottawa was not interrupted. Wrecking crews from Ottawa and Montreal were called to clear up the wreckage.
The wreck occurred about 3.47 o'clock. Train No. 50 was entering the station, and about 30 feet from where it ran into the open switch, it struck a derailer, tearing it out of the road bed, 25 feet further on the engine left the track and plowed up the road bed, the cow catcher digging into it. The track was torn up and the rails were smashed into several pieces.
Car of wheat spilled.The engine telescoped a car of wheat consigned to the D. Markson flour mills, and the contents were spilled all over. When the engine struck the string of freight cars it shoved them along the siding out over the open end to the west of the station and through the station yard right up to the corner of the building. Had the engine not dug into the roadbed, the cars words most likely have taken the whole rear wall out of the station and many lives might have been lost, as there were many persons on the station platform waiting for the arrival of the train. Three other freight cars were damaged beside the one which was telescoped and completely destroyed. The car which struck the station was broken open at one end and its frame twisted. Another car, about halfway in the long line, was loaded with lumber, and when the impact came its load shifted, causing several pieces of lumber to crash through one end. The third car, which was next to the car of wheat, was thrown off the rails and was badly broken. A number of handcars, used by the section men and the work gang, who were ballasting nearby, was smashed into tinder. They were to the rear of the string of boxcars.
Emergency calls.As soon as the crash came, The Station Agent, G.W. Shepherd, put in an emergency call to the local telephone exchange, which in turn quickly notified Doctors E. Charbonneau, J. T. Hope, and M. Markson, and fire chief Max Seger. The doctors were on hand quickly, and fireman Ricketts was receiving aid from the train crew, who had placed him on a stretcher when Dr. Markson arrived. The injured man was placed in a Bell Telephone Co. truck and driven by J. T. Bottomley, foreman for the telephone company, to the doctor's office. Here, Dr. Markson set the broken collarbone and closed up a cut on the fireman's nose with two stitches. Dr. Markson stated that the injured man was black and blue from bruises, and it was probable he was injured internally. As soon as he had received medical treatment, Mr. Ricketts was placed on the train and taken to Montreal, where X- ray photographs will be taken to determine the extent of his injuries.
The fire department responded to the call with a chemical truck, but fire did not break out in the wreckage.
Passengers just shaken.There was no damage done in either of the three coaches of the passenger train or the baggage car, with the exception that when the impact came, the water cooler in each car fell over and splashed its contents over the floor of the coaches. The passengers were shaken up, but did not become very frightened. The fireman and engineer left the engine just about 20 feet from where it came to a stop. Had they remained on it till then, they would have been instantly killed, as the cabin of the engine and the front of the tender jammed together. Both the engine and tender were off the tracks and one wheel of the express car left the rails. These were the only cars comprising the passenger train to leave the rails.
All evening curious crowds gathered around the wrecked locomotive and Assistant Chief of Police. Z.J. Courville had plenty to do keeping the adventurous from climbing onto the engine as it lay half on its site being kept from sliding into the ditch by a pile of cedar fence poles. The Ottawa wrecking crew, under Foreman George Pallett, arrived here at 8 o'clock with conductor R.H. Eddie in charge of the train. The Montreal crew arrived at 8:30 o'clock and the two crews, directed by superintendent McNaughton, worked all night to get the wreckage cleaned up.
Solid brick building.Station Agent Shepherd stated that he heard the crash when the locomotive met the string of boxcars. It was not very loud and within a few seconds, the plaster began to fall inside the station, caused by the boxcar striking the corner and pushing the rear wall about 6 feet out of place. The station is solid brick and was damaged in only one corner.
As far as could be ascertained there was only one man in the waiting room of the station, when the box car struck it. He was De L. McDonald and gave his impressions to The Citizen reporter. The first intimation of anything out of the ordinary was when he saw the plaster falling. He looked around and saw the freight cars right up to the station. He ran out and was one of the first persons to give aid to the train crew.
F. Service, Roadmaster for the Alexandria subdivision was in the station when the crash came. He ran out and when he saw what happened, notified the Montreal office. He then ran to the wreck and gave assistance.
A Remarkable Escape.One of the most remarkable escapes was that of Joseph Marcoux, a taxi driver, who was standing near his car when the crash came. He jumped into the auto, put it in gear and stepped on the starter. His car plunged forward over the station platform and the freight cars in passing came so close that a spare tire on the back of his car was covered with paint from the site of the freight car.
A telegraph pole was snapped off at the base by the cars but the wires did not break.
The only Ottawa member of the crew was Morris Brennan, 449 Cooper Street, who was express messenger. He remained here and returns to Ottawa tonight,. Other members of the crew were B Myers, baggageman and A. Barnhart, trainman, both of Montreal.
The wrecked train left Ottawa at ?? o'clock standard time. Of the string of freight cars on the siding, thirteen of them had been placed there this morning, being received from the through freight and the way freight, about half the cars were empty the others containing lumber.
Ottawa Journal 26 June 1929
Switch left open. Train jumps rails
Passenger train from Ottawa Crashes into Freight Cars at Alexandria
Carrying 150 passengers, the Canadian National Railway train which left Ottawa for Montreal at 2.30 yesterday afternoon ran into an open switch near Alexandria station and wrecked a line of freight cars. While at first it looked as if the collision would assume large proportions only one person was injured, A.E. Ricketts, fireman, of Montreal, who sustained a fractured collar bone, severe bruises and internal injuries.
Ran into derailerWhen entering Alexandria about 3.45 p.m. The train ran into a derailer, tearing it out of the roadbed and then struck the open switch. After striking the switch the train left the rails and tore up the roadbed.
A freight car containing wheat, the property of D. Markinson's flour mills, was telescoped, the contents scattering all over the track. The train also ran into a string of freight cars and pushed them right over the open end of the siding into the railway station demolishing part of it.
Have Near Escape.The car digging itself into the roadbed probably saved a more serious collision for it minimized the impact with the freight cars which might have been pushed right through the station. Many people were waiting on the station platform for the arrival of the train and said they had a remarkable escape when the train stopped at the end of the platform. In all three freight cars were destroyed. A number of handcars, used by a section of workmen who were working nearby, were also totally wrecked.
Fireman Ricketts received his injuries through jumping from the engine before it finally came to a standstill. Paul Lalonde, also of Montreal, followed Ricketts but escaped without injury, as did Conductor George Keeler, of Montreal.
No damage was done to the three cars on the passenger train, although the passengers were badly shaken up. As soon as the crash came, G.W. Sheppherd, the station agent, notified Doctors E. Charbonneau, J.T. Rose and M. Markson, and Fire Chief Max Seger. The doctors were quickly on the scene and the fireman, after examination, was taken to the house of J.T. Bottomleym foreman of the Bell Telephone Company. Later he was taken to Montreal where an X-ray examination will be made to ascertain the extent of his injuries.
Alex McNaughton, superintendent of the Montreal division, was called to the scene of the collision and he ordered the train running from Hawkesbury to Glen Robertson to proceed to Alexandria. On arrival, two day coaches and a palour car of the wrecked train were coupled on to it and it proceeded to Coteau Junction where another engine was chartered to take the passengers to Montreal. The passengers arrived there 45 minutes late.
Mr. McNaughton ordered an investigation to be held in Montreal this morning for the purpose of determining who was responsible for the switch being left open. Last night Mr. McNaughton would give no statement regarding the wreck.