Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1940, Decenber 21 - Crossing collision, New York Central, Russell Road, one fatality

Ottawa Journal 23 December 1940

Picture of the damaged vehicle but no railway interest.

Ralph Henry Killed by Train At Level Crossing on Russell Road .
Well-Known City View Dairy Farmer. Was on Way to Home of Customer To Deliver Two Cases of Eggs.

Crushed behind the steering wheel when a New York Central passenger train struck his car on the level crossing one mile beyond the city limits on the Russell road, Ralph Henry, 66, City View district farmer, was killed instantly shortly before noon Saturday. Mr. Henry was a brother of the late Bower Henry, former president of Producer Dairy.
The train. No. 61 from Helena, New York, was travelling at 43 miles per hour and carried the car, jammed on the locomotive cowcatcher, 370 yards along the tracks. Mr. Henry was dead when the train crew reached him.
Suffers Broken Back.
While there was no outward mark of injury on the body, a postmortem examination conducted Saturday night by Coroner Dr. Shirreff revealed the victim's back to have been broken, the right leg and ribs on the right side smashed, and the heart ruptured.
At the time of the accident, Mr. Henry was on his way to the home of a customer, a mile beyond the crossing, to deliver two cases of eggs.
According to statements given police by an eyewitness and the fireman aboard the train, the motorist approached the crossing at not more than 15 miles per hour, but apparently not seeing or hearing the oncoming train, did not stop. Visibility is clear for a half mile both sides of the crossing.
The fireman, Charles Schultz, 262 Russell Ave., Ottawa, said he saw the car approacbing the crossing when the train was still several hundred yards away
"The car was coming so slowty - between 10 and 15 miles an hour - I tbought was going to stop", said the fireman.
The engineer, Dugald Cameron, 83 Concord street, Ottawa, was on the other side, of the cab and did not see the car. He applied the brakes just before reaching the crossing, at a warning from Fireman Schultz, who had realized the alow-driving motorist was unaware of the train thundering down on him.
The locomotive pinnoned the car by the right front side, carrying it 370 yards along the curved tracks. The conductor, W. F. Mc Neill. 66 John street, Ottawa, saw nothing of the actual accident
Dismantle Cowcatcher
Front right side of the car was smashed back almost into the drivers seat, but the only part touching the occupant was the steering wheel pressing against his chest. Before the car could be removed from the front of the locomotive, the cowcatcher had to be dismantled.
Only eye-witness of the crash was Paul Brunke, a Russell Road farmer returning home from the city
"I watched Mr. Henry's car as it approached the crossing", he related, "and it was going so slowly, I thought sure he was about to stop. Perhaps he did apply the brakes and skidded on the tracks, but from the way it looked, I don't think he saw the train. He seemed to be going at the same speed the second before the train struck his car as he had been travelling 40 feet before be reached the crossing."
The theory of the car skidding to the crossing was discounted by Constable James Driscoll. The Ontario Provincial Policeman could find no marks of sliding tires. 
P. E. St Pierre. New York Central Freight Agent in Ottawa, in making a statement for the railway said from all available evidence it was assumed Mr. Henry had not noticed the train's approach. All the precautionary signals had been sounded.
Trainees Train Following.
Following Train No. 61 was the New York Central special, returning the Ottawa recruits from the 30-day Military Centre Training Camp at Cornwall. The crew of the special took the damaged locomotive from No. 61 back to Watertown. N.Y, for repair. The crash held up traffic on the line for an hour.
Preliminary inquest was opened by Dr. Shirreff at the Hulse and Playfair undertaking parlors Saturday night and adjourned to 8.00 p.m.. Friday. It will be held at the County Courthouse.
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Ottawa Citizen 23 December 1940

Well-known City View dairy farmer meets death when New York Central train strikes his car at level crossing half a mile from Hurdman's Bridge.
Ralph Henry, aged 66 years, prominent City View dairy farmer, was instantly killed at 11.40 Saturday morning when the automobile he was driving was struck by a New York Central passenger train on a Russell road level crossing about half a mile from Hurdman's bridge at the outskirts of the city.
Mr. Henry was driving out from Ottawa to deliver eggs.  The car was hit on the side and carried in front of the train for approximately 370 yards.  A 1937 sedan, it was almost completely wrecked.  The N.Y.C. train was traveling from Helena, N.Y., at a speed of about 40 to 45 miles an hour.
The accident occurred within a short distance of the fatality in March of this year in which John Anderson and his son, of Hurdman's Bridge were killed in a similar accident.  A network of railway tracks converge on the capital at this point, and there are a score or so of level crossings on the Russell road and side roads.
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Jammed against engine.
Train crew members and section hands in the vicinity worked frantically to extricate Mr. Henry from the car after the train was brought to a stop.  An ambulance from Hulse and Playfair Ltd., was called and the train was backed up to the crossing and the body was taken to the undertaking parlors, 315, McLeod street
Crowbars and other tools were necessary to move the car from the front of the engine where it was solidly jammed.  The cow catcher was completely torn off.
Clear view.
Several theories were advanced, but none definitely established the cause of the crash. The level crossing in question gives a clear view on both sides,  The train tracks curve in a broad sweep, but there is no obstruction of view in travelling from Ottawa.  However, the ice on the road had been washed smooth by the recent rain and a quick stop was impossible.  There is a very sight incline down to the tracks on either side.
It is not known whether Mr.Henry had seen the train and applied the brakes in an effort to stop or not.  No skid marks were visible, but it is quite possible they would not show on the ice.
The car was crushed sideways like an accordion but remained intact while being carried down the track.  The side Mr. Henry was sitting on was the least damaged.
The only known eye-witness, an aged Hurdman Bridge resident, said he was on his way home when he heard a "tremendous crash".  He looked around and saw the train brakes screeching carrying the car down the right-of-way.  He did not see the actual collision.
The accident held up three other trains for an hour and a half, including a New York Central special bringing trainees back home from the Cornwall military training center and the C.N.R and C.P.R. trains from Montreal.  The NYC special was held up at Hawthorne.
Constable James B. Driscoll of the Ontario provincial police investigated.
The locomotive was in charge of Dugald Cameron, 83 Concord avenue, engineer, and P. Schult, 262 Russell avenue, fireman.  Schult said that on either side of the crossing there is a clear view of the railway right of way.
Mr. Henry was driving slowly and carefully in approaching the crossing,and the trainmen figured that he was going to stop.  The car was going south along the Russell road at a rate of from 10 to 15 miles an hour.  The train's speed was reckoned to be between 40 and 50 miles an hour.
Mr. Henry did not stop.  Either his brakes were ineffective on the icy roadway, or more likely, in the opinion of the train crew, he either did not see the train or hear its whistle.  After the impact, the car was carried almost four hundred yards down the right -of-way.
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