Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1931, May 7 - Woman killed by a train on the bridge at Casselman, CNR., Alexandria sub.

Ottawa Journal 8 May 1931

Hit by a train on R.R. Bridge woman dies
Mrs. F. Gratton is hurled 50 ft into River at Castle none.
Sister and child escaped unharmed
Frantic mother throws herself on boy beside track.

While crossing the railway bridge over the South Nation River at Casselman, Mrs. Fabian Gratton, 47, of Casselman, was struck and instantly killed by a Canadian National Railways Ottawa-Montreal passenger train, while her sister-in-law, Mrs. Andre Charbonneau, a visitor from Vermont, and her eight-year-old son, Joseph, had a narrow escape from death, early last evening.

After being struck by the train, Mrs. Gratton was hurled 50 feet into the water below. Although taken from the water immediately, she was found to have been killed instantly.

Her sister-in-law saved herself and her boy by lying face down beside the track, while the train rolled past without touching them.

Taking shortcut.

Mrs. Creighton and the others were taking a shortcut across the bridge to the home of Moise Leroux, the woman's brother, on the other side of the Nation. Crossing the railway bridge would have saved them a walk four or five times as long.

When the three people heard the whistle of the train as they were on their way across the bridge they realized the danger that they were in. They decided to make an effort to get back to the shore by the way they had come. They hurriedly retraced the steps across the bridge, but in her haste Mrs. Charbonneau's footcaught in a tie and she slipped. As the train was almost upon them, she threw her son down ahead of her and fell upon his prostrate body to shield him. Mrs. Gratton was abreast of them running between the rails.

While the Charbonneaus lay safely beside the track, Mrs. Groton, unable to reach the bank, was struck by the locomotive, and thrown 50 feet ahead and off the bridge into the shallow water of the South Nation. The tracks wwere 20 feet above the surface of the water, which was two or three feet deep.

The engineer, H. H. Legate, although driving slowly as he approached Casselman station, where he was due at 6:30 p.m., Standard time, halted the train almost within its own length. He and the conductor, George Keeler, led the way down the bank of the river to get the woman.

The one physician on board the train, Dr. Dolan, of Alexandria was ready to give medical attention when Mrs. Gratton was removed from the water. He  pronounced her dead at once. Placed in the baggage car, the body was taken to the station, where Dr. S. Ladouceur, of Casselman, confirmed Dr. Dolan's pronouncement. Mrs. Charbonneau and her son were not injured, although they were greatly upset by the tragedy and their own narrow escape.

Almost a witness.

Mrs. Gratton's husband was almost a witness of the accident. Working in his garden about 200 yards from the bridge, he saw the train stopped and the passengers jumping off, but he gave little thought to it. Then when the crowd assembled on the river bank, he went over to see what was the matter. The shock of finding his wife lying dead on the shore overcame him.

Dr. Ladouceur said the woman suffered fractures of the skull the right leg and the left arm, in addition to bruises and cuts.

Dr. Martin Powers, coroner of Rockland, made a journey to Casselman last night and decided that an inquest was not necessary, as death was accidental. He intimated this morning, however, that he would consent to hold an inquest if it should be requested by the Canadian National Railway company.

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Updated 23 January 2021