Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1940, October 11 - Crossing collision, Roxborough Avenue,Ottawa, CPR., Carleton place sub., one fatality

Ottawa Citizen 11 October 1940

Woodroffe Man Is Killed When Train Hits Car
Harold P. K. Saunders, 23, Victim. C.P.R. Train, Late, Was Travelling at 70 Miles Per Hour.

When the motor car in which he was the only occupant was struck by transcontinental C.P.R. train No. 8, travelling about 70 miles per hour, at Roxborough avenue, Woodroffe, at eight o'clock this morning, Harold P. R. Saunders, 23, outside representative for the Ottawa office of the Household Finance Corporation of Canada, was instantly killed. His motor car was completely demolished and parts were scattered along the railway for over a hundred yards from the crossing.
Only a few minutes before the crash Saunders left his bride of only a few months at their comfortable little cottage about a city block from the railway crossing on his way to his office in the city. She did not see the accident but learned of her husband's tragic death a short time after.
The train was 55 minutes late and travelling over the crossing every morning for the last two weeks, Saunders apparently was not expecting it. An eye-witness, Norman Jans, who operates a refreshment booth on the Richmond road and who had just walked over the crossing said that Saunders did not look for an approaching train but continued on to the railway without stopping. He was proceeding south towards the Richmond road.
Did Not See Car.
The train was brought to a stop about half a mile beyond the crossing. The engine crew, Herb Kenny, 210 Holland avenue, Ottawa, engineer. and Thomas Barnes, 134 Breeze Hill avenue, Ottawa, fireman, told Constable Borden Conley that they did not see the car until the crash. City, provincial and township police were called and the accident was investigated by Township Constable Conley and Provincial Constable Driscoll. Coroner J. S. Nelson, after viewing the body, had it removed to the A. L. Tubman funeral parlors at Westboro where he held a preliminary inquest at two o'clock this afternoon.
The crossing, according to a warning notice posted at the approaches, may be used only at a person's own risk, and is dangerous especially for one approaching from the north. Even from the center of the rails the view to the west, from which the train approached, is clear only a little more than the length of a city block. There is a public crossing equipped with a signal bell at Woodroffe avenue, a block to the west, after which the railway curves to the north. Between the two crossings but outside the railway property is a mass of shrubbery and a cottage about halfway between.
Unusual Time For Train
Jans said that as he walked across the railway tracks prior to the accident he heard the whistle of the approaching train and also the bell ringing at the Woodroffe avenue crossing. He said he found it unusual for a train to pass at that time. He then noticed the motor car travelling about ten miles per hour and it reached the rails just as the train reached the crossing. The car was a light coupe and Jans said that he did not notice if the windows were opened or closed.
"The locomotive struck the auto completely broadside, hurling it ahead about fifteen feet through the air." Jans said. "While it was still flying through space the fast train caught up with it and struck it again," Jans continued. "In the second crash the man and the undcrcarriage of the auto were hurled to the side," he said. Jans told of rushing over to the man and said he was apparently dead. He said that the remainder of the car fell to the side of the train and was dragged along by the locomotive.
According to Constable Cornley the body was found 172 feet from the crossing at the side of the right-of-way, and the auto was about 150 feet further on.
Another witness was Miss Joan Ferguson of Woodroffe.
The locomotive was somewhat damaged and had to be changed when the train reached Ottawa. The coaches were scratched for whole length of the train and a window in the last sleeper was broken.
C.P.R. Statement
W. P. Garland, assistant superintendent for the C.P.R. in Ottawa, issued the following statement after the accident: "Harold Saunders, 23, married, whose home was at Woodroffe, Ont., was instantly killed when the automobile in which he was travelling was struck at a private crossing just west of Woodroffe at 7.10 o'clock (standard time) this morning. The car was demolished and the engine of the fast transcontinental train was considerably damaged. The train was travelling at a speed of about 70 miles per hour and the weather was quite foggy. Apparently the driver did not see or hear the fast approaching train. The train was in charge of Engineer H. Kenny of Ottawa and Conductor G. B. Darling of North Bay."
So badly wrecked was the motor car that it was loaded piece by piece on to a dump truck to be taken to the Westboro garage.
Only on July 3 last Mr. Saunders was married in Toronto and until October 1 he and his bride occupied a cottage at Britannia. On October 1 they moved to their present home on Algonquin avenue, Woodroffe. Both are from Saskatoon, Sask., where Mr. Saunders was born. He received his education there and graduated from University of Saskatchewan, He joined the staff of the Household Finance Corporation of Canada in December last at Toronto and was transferred to Ottawa in March of this year. Last month his parents were here from Saskatoon to visit him. There are no relatives in Ottawa other than the widow.

Ottawa Citizen 16 October 1940

Harold Saunders' Death At Crossing Is Held Accidental

The death of Harold P. R. Saunders. 23. of Britannia Bay, which occurred last Friday when the car he was driving was struck by a train on the Roxborough Avenue CPR. crossing in Woodroffe, was declared accidental by a coroner's jury last night. The inquest into Saunders' death, held in the Westboro town hall, was conducted by Dr. J. S. Nelson, coroner.
The jury recommended that the shrubs or brush be cut down on both sides of the crossing. Dr. Nelson expressed the belief that "until we learn first to stop, then to look, then to listen, there'll always be accidents." He also pointed out that the crossing was a private one. with signs to indicate it as such, but was widely used by the public to cross the railway tracks.
Unaware Car Hit.
The train crew testified they did not know of the accident until they stopped the train, believing the engine to have broken down from the clouds of steam they saw suddenly pouring from the front of it. G. B. Darling of North Bay. the conductor, said the train speed of 75 miles an hour, was normal for that stretch of track.
M. H. Kenney. 210 Holland avenue, Ottawa, the engineer. told the jury the train's whistle had been sounded and the warning bell at the Woodroffe avenue crossing. just west of the Roxborough crossing, was sounding at the time. Thomas Barnes, 34 Breeze Hill avenue, fireman, also testified.
Dr. L. C Purvis said Saunders had died of a fractured skull, lacerations of the brain and shock.
Evidence was also given by Norman Jans and Miss Joan Ferguson. eye-witnesses, and Nepean Constable Borden Conley, who investigated.
The jury was composed of Fred Robinson, foreman; Ben Bigford, John Murray, Robert Baird and David Arch.

Ottawa Journal 16 October 1940

Witness Tried Warn Saunders Before Crash
A speed of 75 miles an hour was not unusual for trains travelling in the suburban area, railway employes told a coroner's jury enquiring into the death of Harold P. R. Saunders, killed in a level crossing accident at Woodroffe last Friday, at the Westboro Town Hall on Tuesday night.
Both the engineer and conductor of the train said the train had been travelling at 75 miles an hour when the C.P.R. transcontinental flyer hit Saunders' car at the Roxborough avenue crossing. That was the usual speed of the train entering the suburban area. They knew of no regulation governing speed for their train.
Suggest Clearing Shrub.
The jury, under Dr. J. S. Nelson, coroner, returned a verdict of accidental death and added a rider suggesting the clearing of shrubs at both sides of the crossing, to give a clear view of the track for a much longer distance to car drivers approaching the crossing.
Norman Jans and Miss Joan Ferguson, eyewitnesses, both testified Saunders had approached the track at a very slow rate of speed and apparently had not heard the whistle or the bell. Miss Ferguson said she had waved Saunders back but apparently he had failed to notice her signal.
M. H. Kennedy, of 210 Holland avenue, engineer on the train, said he sounded the whistle for the public crossing at Woodroffe avenue. It had not been necessary to whistle for the private crossing at Roxborough avenue but the bell had been ringing.
Mr. Kennedy never knew the train had struck anything until it had been brought to a halt with the application of the emergency brakes a considerable distance down the tracks. Just at the crossing there was a burst of steam from the front of the locomotive and he thought something had gone wrong with it. He immediately applied the emergency brakes.
Told By Conductor.
Thomas Barnes, of Breezehill avenue, fireman, said he never noticed the car approaching the crossing and did not know the train had struck the car until he was told by the conductor.
G. B. Darling, of North Bay, conductor, said he got off the train when it had been pulled to a stop and saw the wreckage of the car some distance back. He phoned the superintendent and instructed him to get a doctor and an ambulance.
The train had been running 55 minutes late, but 75 miles an hour was the usual speed for the train at that section. They were permitted to make up time if possible.
Township Constable Borden Conley gave evidence as to where the body was found and the distance the car was thrown. Dr. L. C. Purvis testified death was caused by a fracture of the skull and shock.
In reviewing the evidence the coroner told the jury that until "such time as we all learn to stop, look and listen, at all railroad crossings there will always be accidents".

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