Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1953, March 6 - Crossing accident near Vankleek Hill, CNR Vankleek sub., one fatality,
serious fire and eight freight cars derailed

Fatal Train-Truck Crash At Vankleek Hill-Walter McLeod, 34-year-old Morrisburg man, met a fiery death near Vankleek Hill yesterday when his heavy tractor-trailer unit exploded and burned when it was rammed by CNR train. Seven cars of the mixed freight were derailed, and a combined passenger and express roach was destroyed by the fire. In the top picture, the express-passenger coach is still burning. Bottom photo is a view of the demolished truck cab In which McLeod, driver of the vehicle, was crushed and burned to death. (See Story on Page 9 March 7). Photo by Newton

From the Ottawa Citizen Friday 6 Match 1953

Man Killed At Crossing
A train was reported to have hit a truck at Vankleek Hill at press time today killing the driver of the vehicle, and setting an empty passenger coach of the train on fire.
The Hawkesbury fire department it is believed has extinguished the blaze. No one aboard the train was hurt.

From the Ottawa Citizen Saturday 7 March 1953

Train Afire, Truck Driver Dies In Crossing Tragedy
VANKLEEK HILL A Morrisburg paper trucker was burned to death in the cab of his semitrailer shortly before noon Friday when the truck crashed into the side of a CNR mixed freight, burst into flames and derailed eight of the freight cars.
Trapped in the gasoline saturated cab of his truck was Walter McLeod, 34, of Morrlsburg, a driver for the Lawson Transter of Cornwall.
The truck burst into flames immediately after it struck the side of the way-freight engine. Impact of the accident burst the gasoline tank, showering the entire truck and cab with flaming gasoline.
Paper Burns
Seconds later the 15 to 20 tons of paper in the van of the truck caught fire and within minutes flames spread to the express car at the end of the eight-car freight. The expressman managed to throw express bundles along the right-of-way before the flames completely enveloped the coach.
Attempts by two neighborhood farmers. Ron Fitzpatrick, 21, and his uncle, George Fitzpatrick, to rescue the doomed man from the flaming truck cab were unsuccessful. When the flames and heat finally subslded the two men managed to pull the badly charred trucker's body from the twisted and scorched interior of the cab.
Witnesses estimated that the truck, carrying a load of specially-processed paper from the pulp mill at Hawkesbury to the Courtauld mill at Cornwall, was travelling at about 45 miles an hour approaching the .CNR crossing about two miles north of here.
Mrs. Rene Sauve, of St. Andrew's East, Que., following the truck in her own car, said McLeod appeared to apply the brakes and the massive vehicle swerved towards a ditch but It struck the engine betore he could turn it away from the level crossing.
Another Witness
Mrs. Rose Quann, who lives about 100 feet from the crossing, told investigating police officers that the truck driver appeared to be braking to miss the accident, but seemed to have noticed the train too late to avoid hitting it.
Provincial constables Russel Hawkshaw. James Crowe and J. P. Trudel of the Hawkesbury detachment investigated the crash. They sealed off highway traffic on the Hawkesbury-Vankleek Hill road and stated that it would be some hours before there would be a normal resumption of traffic.
Canadian National Railways, meanwhile, rushed wreck trains from Montreal and Ottawa to clear the line of the wreckage and right the eight derailed cars. Mainline traffic between, Ottawa and Montreal will not be affected by the crash as it occurred in the side line between Glen Robertson and Hawkesbury.
The Hawkesbury Fire Department sent its hose truck and tank truck out to battle the flames In the semi-trailer and the express coach. Firemen ran out of water and the tank truck had to be. sent back to fill up again. A nearby well was siphoned but It also ran dry.
The highway approaching the level crossing was dry and clear of ice. Police betleve that McLeod misjudged the braking time he would need carrying the 15 to 20 ton load and applied his brakes too late to bring the lumbering truck to a halt clear of the tracks.

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Updated 18 October 2019