|Ottawa Journal Monday 9 May 1938|
Three Men Killed, Six Injured In Freight Train Wreck Near Norway Bay
Bodies of Two Unidentified Young Men Are Taken From Debris - Third Dies in Hull Hospital
Toll of three dead and at least six injured was taken in a train wreck between Quyon and Norway Bay on Sunday afternoon, when a Canadian National freight train of 19 heavily-loaded cars was derailed and jumped the track to crash into a swamp along the right-of-way. Cause of the derailment is said to have been a loosened wheel which wrenched the train to one side and precipitated the wreck.
Second Body Foand Under Car
When searchers resumed their work this morning a body of an unidentified man was discovered beneath a tank car, crushed down into the swamp, and it is feared that other victims will be found in the course of the day. All dead and injured were described by railway authorities as transients who had been "riding the rails" or were concealed in other spots on the train.
"Billie" Hilton. 23. of Westville, Nova Scotia, who died of injuries at eight o'clock this morning at Sacred Heart Hospital, Hull.
An unidentified man about 25 years of age, discovered a short time after the wreck occurred.
A second unidentified man between 25 and 30 years of age found under a tank car shortly after daylight today.
Frank Grabeau, 45, of Montreal, injuries to both legs, with possible fracture of right leg, patient at Ottawa Civic Hospital;
Alexander Campbell, 39. of no fixed address, head injuries, severe shock and possible fracture of right thigh, also at Civic Hospital;
John Green, 23, of Westville, N.S., one of the Moose River mine disaster heroes, his right arm fractured, bad head and face injuries, patient at Sacred Heart Hospital, Hull;
John Hilton, 19, of Westville. N.S., in Sacrd Heart Hospital with a fractured left thigh bone, and cuts and bruises on the right leg;
Garland Oldfield, 28, also of Westville, patient at Sacred Heart Hospital, suffering from fracture of left thigh.
Another man, whose name was not learned, was treated at Civic Hospital and later allowed to go.
All three at Sacred Heart Hospital Hospital were listed as serious.
Opens An Inquest.
The second body, discovered by a wrecking crew at six o'clock this morning, was viewed by Dr. Leopold Renaud, Pontiac county coroner, and transferred temporarily to Pontiac station, pending possible identification. An inquest was opened this afternoon. No papers nor marks of identification were found in the. man's clothing. In view of the immense amount of debris and the weight of the laden box, tank and freight cars, a second working crew was despatched to the. scene this morning and joined workers already there in their gruesome search. The crash occurred at three o'clock, standard time.
Work crews of more than 200 men under the direction of P. H. Fox, C.N.R. assistant-superintendent of Ottawa, toiled at high pressure this morning and afternoon clearing away the tangled mass of wreckage. At noon no other bodies were found although some of the transients who escaped injury were sure that several more men had been entombed in the crash.
Says Track Was Sound
Mr. Fox said he expected to have the .wreckage cleared away and 300 feet of track rebuilt for traffic by late this afternoon. Leo Elliott, section foreman of Pontiac Station, declared that he had carefully inspected the stretch of track where the wreck occurred just a few hours before the derailment and found it to be in sound condition.
Several large box cars, tank cars and flat cars are still lying turned over in the ditch and swamp beside the right-of-way and are being hoisted by cranes.
Several survivors of the wreck made their way into Quyon last night and expressed the fear that perhaps nine or ten more men had lost their lives.
Tales of Crash
Basil Williams, 28 year old transient from the maritimes gave The Journal a graphic accoint of the wreck. "I was on a flat car loaded with square timber, directly behind one of the tank cars. It seemed to me that there were at least a dozen men on the tankers. I saw the cars in front buckle and shoot up in the air, so directly behind one of the tank cars I jumped hoping to get clear of the falling timber and cars. Luckily I jumped the right way and landed safely on soft ground.
"I didn't see the gang of fellows on the tank car afterwards and don't see what else could have happened to them but to be crushed under the weight of steel." Williams was unable to identify the bodies of the two victims which were taken from the debris last night and this morning.
Between 20 and 25 men were riding oil tanker cars and iron loaded freight cars in the train. Although several men were seen to run away from the scene as the cars piled up on both sides of the demolished trackage, it was believed some may have been buried in the wreck.
Fewer than half of those believed to be riding on the train were definitely accounted for.
Heading east from North Bay. The train had swung across the Ottawa river to the Pontiac area, where the C.N.R. line continues on the north shore of the Ottawa to Fitzroy Harbor, crossing back to Ontario at that point for the run to Ottawa.
The freight, official C.N.R. train No. 402, was only two miles west of Pontiac station, between Norway Bay amd Quyon, when a wheel became detatched from the sixth car from the locomotive. This car and others following it left the tracks and were piled up in the swamp the train was passing at the time. The tracks were torn up for a distance of 200 feet.
One Moose River Rescuer
Four Westville, N.S., young men, one of them a miner who assisted two years ago in the rescue of two of three men imprisoned in a mine in Moose River, N.S., were admitted at Sacred Heart Hospital, Hull, in a serious condition, and three other injured men were treated at Ottawa Civic Hospital and were admitted there.
The identity of the men whose bodies were recovered from the wreckage at the scene were not established.
Survivor Tells of Wreck
"We four boys had been travelling around together looking for work", he said. "I was one of the guys in on the Moose River affair, when we got out Dr. Robertson and Alfred Scadding. No, don't call me 'draegerman'. I hadn't anything to do with that part of it. I used to be a miner and helped at Moose River at the time of the rescue, that's all.
"Well, me and the boys had been working around St. Thomas, Ont., but things got tough there. So we thought we would head for the North country. But there is not as much work there as they say, and we couldn't get anything worth while to do. So we figured on heading east - to get home if we could work our way there.
"We were among the gang riding this here freight train. It was a long train. It was hitting about 35 or 40 when the trouble happened. The other three boys in my gang were on an oil tank car ahead of me. I was riding the front end of the next car, also a tanker. Suddenly I see the car in front of me jump in the air. There was a cloud of dust and the next thing I know the brakies were hauling me out of the wreckage. I'm lucky I did not get killed, but, as the cloud of smoke or dust came, I hung on to a rod tight. The whiole car toppled over on us.
"How many were riding the train? That I can't say. It must have been more than 20, possibly 25. I know some of the lads were seen running away in the bush and swamp after the smash - possibly five or six of them. But there must be other guys in that wreckage."
How many lives were lost appears impossible to tell as aid was hurried to the scene of the mishap.
P.H. Fox, of Ottawa, assistant C.N.R. superintendent in this division, hurried to the vicinity of Pontiac station with medical aid and a relief train, as news of the tragedy reached Ottawa. Late Sunday night Mr. Fox, still directing rescue workers at the scene, issued the following statement through the C.N.R. office here, to the press.
"In a derailment of several cars on a through eastbound freight train at 3 p.m. this afternoon at a point about 40 miles west of Ottawa, and near Pontiac, one trespasser riding the train met fatal injury and four others were more or less seriously injured. Several other trespassers riding the train escaped unhurt. The deceased was unknown, age about 25 years. Remains are in charge of the coroner of Pontiac county located at Campbell's Bay.
The injured are Billie Hilton, John Hilton, Geralf Oldfield and John Green, from Westville, N.S., and were promptly taken by coach to Ottawa and to Sacred Heart Hospital, Hull. An investigation concerning cause of accident is being made promptly by the railway."
Members of the crew of No. 402, the freight concerned, were G.H. Stewart, conductor, and Donald McPhail, engineer, both of Ottawa.
When the accident happened calls for help were sent to the settlements and Summer colonies on the north shore of the Ottawa near the scene. Living close by were Dr. M.D. Graham, 231 Crichton street, Ottawa, and Mrs. Graham, who were occupying their summer cottage near Bristol.
News of the derailment reached Dr. Graham through a railway employe at Bristol. The doctor at once boarded a light locomotive, which was on the tracks there, and hurried to the scene. In the meantime Mrs. Graham took out the doctor's car and drove towards the derailment.
Wife Helps in Rescue
Thus while Dr. Graham was the first physician on the scene, Mrs.Graham played an important part in the rescue work. Three of the injured were staggering along the road from the railway towards her car, as she approached the scene. They were all evidently hurt. Without stopping to inquire how they were hurt, she bundled them in the car and drove as fast as she could for Ottawa. She landed the patients at Ottawa Civic Hospital at about 7.30 p.m.
They included Grabeau and Campbell. The two who were admitted at Civic Hospital, and another man who was only slightly hurt and was given first aid.
Dr. Graham, in the meantime, had taken part in a general search of the wrecked train for victims. One body was found almost immediately. The victim had met instant death.
It was impossible to probe the wreckage. Some of the cars had been loaded with iron ingots from the North country. These were piled high on both sides of the railway right-of-way, amid wreckage of the tank and other cars. The track was torn up for a considerable distance. One freight car had been loaded with lumber, and this added to the debris as the car was smashed to small pieces.
Railway telegraph carried news of the mishap to Ottawa and Acting Superintendent Fox took immediate steps to organize a relief train. He communicated with Dr. George S. MacCarthy, 110 Lisgar street and Dr. Lorne Gardner, 328 Waverley street. They did not wait for a wrecking crew to be assembled for the relief train, but started at once for Pontiac station.
Dr. Graham had given first aid to several injured men at the scene. All were transients.
To their travel-stained bodies had been added the muck of the swamp into which the derailment precipitated them, and doctors found dirt ground into their wounds.
Four suffer fractures
Four of those found at the scene has suffered fractures, at least one of them being critically injured. Immediately the relief train reached the scene they were transferred to a special coach and hurried to the Capital and to Sacred Heart Hospital.
At the hospitals here emergency measures were at once employed for the victims of the wreck. Dr. N.Schecter, of the Civic Hospital staff attended the two men admitted there, and at Sacred Heart Hospital Dr. Gerald Brisson took charge of the four serious men transferred there.
When it was established that death had resulted from the derailment, Dr. Leopold Renaud, of Campbell's Bay, chief coroner for the Pontiac district, was summoned to the scene. He had the body of the unidentified victim taken to a funeral home at Campbell's Bay, where it will be kept while efforts are made to establish the transient's identity
Work of the railway authorities in determining the exact outcome of the derailment was complicated by the character of the "passengers" hurt. All were men who had boarded the freight train unlawfully, most of them being unemployed men "beating" their way east from the mining areas of the North country.
Some Fled to Bush
Immediately after the crash railwaymen say a number of those who were on the freight, fled into the bush for fear of consequences, and it was stated no possible count of heads could be made to determine how many were concerned in the mishap.
At the point of the derailment there is a creek beside the railway right-of-way, and the wrecked cars toppled into a quagmire in which it was feared bodies may have been pressed down under tons of debris.
C.N.R. officials in Ottawa left no stone unturned to right matters when they reached the scene. Those hurt were given as much consideration as though they had been first-class regular passengers. On their arrival at hospitals in Ottawa and Hull, railway officials made arrangements for local doctors to take charge of the cases at railway expense.
Trackage on the important Pontiac link of the C.N.R. system in this division, was disrupted by the derailment, and it is believed it would be at least 24 hours before service could be restored over the line of the north shore.There was only slight delay in passenger and freight movement on the division, however, traffic being rerouted through Golden Lake and Pembroke junction.
Sense of Desolation
Darkness closing down on the scene of the wreck hampered seasrchers, but powerful search lights directed on the torn section of the track revealed an appalling pamorama of desolation. The fast freight rushing eastward over the main line, caused two of the heavy tank cars in its wake to buck high into the air. It was said at the scene the cars jumped as high as the top of telegraph poles.
Wreckage of two refrigerator cars was strewn about, and the ground was littered with the carcases of mutton and beef. Copper and zinc in bars and blocks also lay about. Some of the freight cars had been loaded with this valuable cargo. Officials said it would be necessary in some cases to unload the metal, which was not upset, in order to raise the overturned cars.
Parents Are Notified
The body of Billie Hilton, who died of injuries in hospital, was conveyed to Gauthier's undertaking parlours, 101 Notre Dame street, Hul, and news of his death was sent to his father, Henry Hilton, Grant street, Westville, N.S. Coroner Dr. Joseph Isabelle viewed the body at the morgue but is holding no inquest since Hilton's death will be investigated together with those of the other victims by the authorities of the county of Pontiac.
Preparations had been made at Sacred Heart Hospital to amputate both of Hilton's legs, which were shattered in the wreck, but death intervened.
Believe "Missing" Escaped
Montreal, May 8 - Canadian National Railways headquarters said tonight reports reaching here indicated not more than one man had been killed in the derailment today of a fast freight near Quyon, Que.
The advice received at the railway's office from the scene of the wreck said one man known dead was a "trespasser" on the train. His identity was not known.
The Montreal railway officials said there was no liklihood any bodies remained among the 19 cars which they asserted had been derailed. The wreckage had been searched thoroughly, they declared. There had been no fire.
The 13 transients listed as "missing" were believed here to have left the scene of the wreck, the railway office said. Officials had not heard tonight how many were aboard the train.
The railway office said it had not been advised of the cause of the accident but it was described as "not a bad derailment". The cars had not been badly damaged it was explained.
Ottawa Journal Tuesday 10 May 1938
Cause of Wreck Is Not Determined
Employes Say Train and Tracks in Good Condition One Body Not Identified.
At a coroner's inquest held on Monday over the three victims of Sunday's train wreck near Norway Bay, jury found that death of the three was accidental and that actual cause of the wreck could only be determined by further Iivestigation.
Killed In the crash were: Billie Hilton, Westville, Nova Scotia, who died in Sacred Heart Hospital, Hull; Andrew Manson, of North Bay, and a third man as yet unidentified. Dr. Leopold Renaud,. Pontiac county coroner, presided at the inquest.
Questioning of the train crew and others during the inquest failed to determine the cause of the derailment. Close scrutiny of the rails by C.N.R. officials had disclosed no clue to the mishap, and it was believed the actual cause of the wreck would never be known.
Members of the train crew said a complete inspection of the train had been made at Pembroke Junction a short time before the accident and had failed to reveal any defects in any of the car wheels. It wss also shown that an inspection of the roadbed had been made the morning of the wreck and it had been found to be in perfect condition.
After hearing the evidence of five witnesses it took the jury only a few minutes to return a verdict of accidental death.
Find Wreck Accidental
The inquest was opened at the home of William Taylor at Pontiac Station by Dr. L. Renaud, coroner for Pontiac county at three o'clock and lasted more than two hours before the jury brought in a verdict attributing the deaths of the three men to a train wreck caused by an accident.
Donald McPhail locomotive engineer, of 344 Stewart street Ottawa, said the freight was proceeding east towards Pontiac Station at speed of about 38 to 40 miles an hour when the emergency brakes suddenly went on. "I looked back along the tracks and saw the cars had jumped the rails. All we could do was hang on and wait until the train pulled to a stop. I went back and viewed the situation, then proceeded with the engine and four cars to Pontiac Station where I phoned the despatcher in Ottawa."
Later Mr. McPhail said he went back to the scene of the wreck with a doctor from Ottawa to render first aid to the injured men.
He noticed four men who were suffering from injuries, and later found one man dead in the muskeg.
Questioned closely by the coroner as to what might have caused (the accident Mr. cPhail said be had no idea whatever.
Track All Right
"You were never told the track in bad condition?" asked J. Noonan, Crown Attorney for Pontiac, who questioned the witnesses.
"The track was all right", replied Mr. McPhail
Mr. Noonan: "Is it a habit for people to get on the trains? Mr. McPhail: "
"It is rnighty hard to keep them off these days".
Mr. Noonan: "Did you know of any on the train that day.".
Mr. McPhail: "No, I could not say I did".
Inspected at Pembroke.
Mr. McPhail explained the train's last stop had been at Pembroke, where a thorough inspection had been made of all the cars.There was nothing whatever wrong with the train.
Asked if there were many empty cars in the 40 which comprised the freight Mr. McPhail said there three, two empty tank cars and one empty coal car.
Mr. McPhail further explained in answer to questions by the coroner and the Crown attorney that the brakes applied themselves the air lines broke with the derailment of the car.
At the conclusion of his evidence McPnail said he had no idea what had caused the derailment oft he cars. It might have been a dozen things, and he would not take the responsibility of saying what it had been.
Two Buried in Wreck
George Stewart conductor of the train; who resides at 32 Second avenue, Ottawa, was the next witness. He said he saw a cloud of dust and all they could do was wait until the train came to a stop.
"I went along the track and dug out two men who were badly hurt. They were buried right up to their shoulders in the mud. Later I found another man whe was dead."
Mr. Stewart said he was one of the three men who inspected the train at Pembroke Junction. Everything was in good condition.
Questioned as to the transients on the train, Mr. Stewart said he saw at least 25 men hanging around the train at Pembroke Junction but he could not say how many of them, if any, got on the train as he did not see them when the train pulled out.
William Old. C.N.R. constable, of 110 1-2 Third avenue, Ottawa, said he proceeded to the scene of the wreck on the auxiliary train which, reached Pontiac Station at seven o'clock. He was placed in charge of the dead man, who had been found in the muskeg pending the arrival of the coroner.
Mr. Old said he searched the body for identification but failed to find anything that would reveal his name or where he came from. He was a man of about 23 years of age, weighing about 160 pounds. His complexion was dark, eyes were brown. He wore a green sweater with two yellow bands on the arms, dark grey trousers, brown shoes, blue shirt and blue tie.
Hugh Hastings, 22 Thornton avenue, another C.N.R. constable, gave similar evidence.
Second Victim Unknown.
Robert French, provincial detective located at Campbell's Bay, gave the description of the second man found underneath one of the tank cars on Monday morning. He was 25 to 30 years of age and five feet 10 inches in height and weighed about 13S pounds.
He had a fair complexion, blond hair, green eyes, and a scar on the left side of the chin. He was wearing a blue sweater, blue shirt, red necktie, dark grey trousers with checks, black socks and heavy black boots.
A search of the man's clothing failed to reveal anything which might give a possible clue as to his identity, although in his pocket was a small notebook containing several names including that of Miss Irene Valiquet 318 Stewart street and addresses of several persons in North Bay.
In summing up the evidence Dr. Renaud said the jurymen had heard sufficient of the circumstances to decide whether the wreck was due to an accident or had been caused by lack of care or negligence.
In a few minutes the jury returned with a verdict of accidental death.
Working continuously since their arrival on the scene, wrecking crews drove the last spike in the rebuilt right-of-way shortly before 6 p.m. Monday, and traffic over the main line was resumed.
Twisted and broken box cars, pieces of scrap metal, were, piled along either side of the tracks as the regular service was resumed, and these will be removed on flat cars immediately.
Slight Improvement was noted at Ottawa and Hull hospitals of the five injured in the wreck who are still under treatment here.
At Civic Hospital it was determined that Alexander Campbell, 39, of no fixed address, has a fracture of the right thigh bone, but the other patient at Civic Hospital, Frank Grabeau, 45, of Montreal, has no broken bones, although be suffered considerably from shock and minor injuries.
At Sacred Heart Hospital improvement was reported in the condition of Garland Oldfield, 28, of Westville, N.S, and John Green, 23, also of Westville, two of the four who were hurried to Hull on a relief train from Quyon district early on Sunday evening.
In another little ward at Sacred Heart Hospital there is one empty bed. In it "Billie" Hilton, 23. of Westville, N.S., died on Monday morning, both his legs having been terribly crushed in the wreck.
In Adjoining Beds.
His brother. John Hilton, 19, also of Westville, lies in an adjoining bed suffering from a fractured left thigh bone, and other serious injuries. He knew brother Billie was dead.
Late on Sunday night the Hilton brothers asked to be placed in ad-joining beds when they learned both were in the same hospital. During the night they talked. Nurses found them in conversation at seven o'clock in the morning. At eight o'clock, while brother John slept Billie Hilton died. A screen was placed around his bed. The body was removed. Then his brother awakened and was unable to obtain a response from the adjoining bed, he thought brother Billie was asleep. But finally, hospital authorities were obliged to break the news of his brother's death. John's condition received a setback as a result of the added shock of his bereavement but it is believed he will recover.
The body of Billie Hilton is at Gauthler's Funeral Parlors, In Hull, awaiting word from relatives in Westville. N.S.