Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1941, December 2 - Pool train 32 derails on the curve at Hurdman, the engineer is killed and 47 injured.

From the Ottawa Journal 2 May 1941

Locomotive jumps track on curve
Engineer F. L. Burroughs instantly killed; fireman scalded
One man was killed, 14 were admitted to hospitals, and 15 other persons suffered minor injuries in a train wreck at Hurdmans bridge at 7. 10 a.m. daylight saving time today.
The wrecked train was one of the overnight pool trains from Toronto. The engineer F. L. Burrows, of Smiths Falls, was killed instantly when the locomotive jumped the tracks on a sharp curve, leaped a 10- foot deep ditch and came to rest on its side on a crossing set of rails.
The sealed express car, immediately behind the tender, was sheared through the center as it ripped itself through the engine. A day-coach, in which 40 persons were riding, followed the express car from the rails and dropped on its side.
Two sleeping cars, to the rear of the day coach, were derailed, but not overturned. Majority of the Pullman passengers were asleep at the time and were jolted from their beds.
The engineer was pinned beneath the wreckage of the locomotive and it was not until early afternoon that his body could be extricated by crews of wrecking trains, which hurried to the scene. Steam which escaped from the wisted wreckage of the boilers resulted in the fireman, C. J. Leclair, of Smiths Falls, receiving serious scalds.
Practically all the other injured were occupants of the day coach, although a few were in the first two sleeping cars which left the rails.
Cab catches on fire.
The crash was followed by fire in the locomotive cab and the wreckage of the express car. The blaze was extinguished in quick order.
The scene of the crash was 100 yards north of the CPR Hurdman's Bridge switch tower. The train had just passed the tower and the locomotive left the rails just before it was to cross another set of tracks on a curve sweeping to the west and leading to a railway bridge across the Rideau river.
The engine, leaping 40 feet across the ditch, piled upon another C.P.R, line, which runs east and west. The other set of north-south tracks on the siding line were ripped up by the careening express and Pullman cars. Some sections of track were hurled 50 feet.
The shattered express car rode up over the locomotive and a section of it hung suspended in the air after the crash. Since it was a "sealed" express car, no one was riding in it.
The sole day coach turned over on its side as it followed the express car and all occupants were tossed from their seats. There was much confusion for a few minutes as they struggled to escape from the wreckage through the shattered Windows.
Narrow Escape.
Practically all the occupants of the day coach, including a number of soldiers and sailors on furlough, were awake at the time, buta few were asleep in their seats. All were thrown to the aisles and up against other passengers.
Four soldiers sleeping on the seats in the smoking compartment of the coach, said they owe their lives to the fact that mud and water from the ditch was forced in the windows when their part of the car sank into the ditch. They had been thrown against the windows and would have been gashed by the glass had it not been for the blanket of mud.
Porter's in the sleeping cars said some of their passengers complained bitterly about the "rough shunting" after being shaken from their beds. George Pryor, one of the porters, said he was sitting at the front of the car, preparatory to awakening his passengers, when the crash occurred. When he felt the jolt he tried to get up, but the front end of the car nosed down into the ditch and he was unable to move for a few moments.
Railway statement.
The following statement was issued by W. C. Beck, C.P.R.. Superintendent at Smiths Falls,
At approximately 6:22 a.m. today passenger train on route from Toronto to Ottawa had the engine, express car and three cars containing coach and sleeping car passengers derailed at Hurdman, 1.3 miles from Ottawa Union Station. This was the first section of the pool train running between Toronto and Ottawa. It consisted of C.P.eEngine 2623, express car, coach and seven sleeping cars, and was in charge of conductor H. French and engineer F. Burroughs, of Smiths Falls.
The accident resulted in fatal injuries to engineer Burroughs.
Passengers were conveyed from the scene of the accident to their destinations by automobiles.
Medical assistance was immediately dispatched to Hurdman, where those requiring it received attention.
Emergency equipment was sent to the scene from Ottawa and Smiths Falls, and it is expected that the line will be cleared for movement of trains late this afternoon,
The cause of the derailment has not yet been ascertained. Investigation into the cause is being conducted.

Ottawa Journal 2 May 1941

Slept through Trainwreck
One of the passengers on the wrecked train is apparently a very sound sleeper. When the crash came he slumbered on. Waking up he saw that his compartment was canted. Going into the washroom he noticed that a glass was broken. It was also very cold.

From the Ottawa Citizen 3 May 1941

Hurdman Train Wreck Cause Not Determined
Railway crewman toil through foggy night to clear debris from Main lines. Engineer Frank Burrows Met death on first run over new pool route.
Searchlights on the operators cabin of a traveling crane and headlamps from several yard engines beat against the grey walls of the heaviest fog to blanket the Ottawa area in some time last night as 100 members of a wrecking crew strove to remove the last of the wreckage of pool passenger train 32 which derailed on a curve at Hurdman station at 7:30 yesterday morning. The accident took the life of engineer Frank Burrows of Smith Falls and injured 30 others,  including fireman C.J. Leclair. It was engineer Burroughs' first run on this stretch of line from Smith Falls to Ottawa.
Inquiry not completed.
Although the theory had been unofficially advanced that the icy condition of the rails, the speed of the train and the position at which the front trucks hit the sharp curve combined to cause the wreck, W C. Beck of Smiths Falls, general superintendent, said no official reason could be given until railway investigations are complete.
At the scene of the wreck last night, Mr. Beck who with other company officials had been on the job all day, said, "There is nothing to be said until we complete our investigation." Mr. Beck said the main line was cleared of wreckage and in use by 4:30 yesterday afternoon and the other line, Toronto to Montreal, was ready for trains from Toronto at an early hour this morning. Crewmen were brought from Smiths Falls to help clear the lines.
Motorists on scene.
When they heaved and lifted on rail sections, to repair the torn roadbed, dozens of motorists, risking a dangerous drive on slippery roads through the fog, visited the scene. The big crane struggled at the task of lifting the battered remains of the heavy locomotive and heaving its damaged string of coaches back off the tracks out of the way. Spectators were kept well back from the scene of the accident by RCMP officers and railroad police. RCMP constables, usually engaged in patrolling the Driveway, will utilized for guard duty during the night.
Inquest opened.
At 5 p.m., approximately 4 hours after his crushed body had been removed from under the overturned locomotive, an inquest was opened at the George H. Rogers funeral establishment into the death of engineer Burrows. Dr. W.T. Shirreff, chief coroner, ordered an adkournment until Tuesday, December 9th, at 8 o'clock in the county courthouse here.
The body was taken to Smiths Falls in the motor hearse of J.J.  Marsh, Smith Falls funeral director. Burial will be at Smiths Falls.
Some minor delay was caused in freight and passenger service on CN and CP lines during the day, officials said. Rail traffic was diverted to optional lines, close to the scene of the wreck where there is double track and through Ottawa West. Numbers of passenger trains reached and left Ottawa on tracks adjoining those on which the wreckage lay and passengers could see the giant locomotive lying on its side, the damaged coaches piled behind and above it in a shapeless mass.

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Updated 12 August 2018