Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1955, October 16 - Pool Train Derails Nine Cars after Crossing Accident at River Beaudette, Canadian National, Kingston subdivision, 40 injured

Locomotive CN 6230

From the Ottawa Citizen Monday 17 October 1955

Express Slams Eastview Car, Occupants Escape, 40 Injured
Call It Miracle No One Killed
RIVIERE BEAUDETTE, Que. (CP) A highballing Toronto-to-Montreal passenger train smashed into a stalled car at a level crossing here Sunday night and sent nine cars spewing crazily off the track.
The auto was occupied by two ex-servicemen from Ottawa and Eastview and an Ottawa girl. They were Gerald Sincennes, 25, of 89 Marier Road, Eastview; Fernand Parent, 26, of 137 Beechwood, and Jacqueline Carriere, 24, of 97 O'Connor Street. All escaped uninjured when they leaped into a ditch as the train hit.
Provincial police estimated the number of injured at 40 but only about half of these required hospital treatment. Eight were detained in hospital at Valleyfield, Que., and another two at Cornwall, Ont.
Hack Way Free with Axes
Passengers who hacked their way out of overturned coaches with axes agreed it was "a miracle" that no one was killed. One car overturned completely and came to rest on its roof. Another crashed on its side while the other seven teetered at weird angles beside the track.
Gilles Bourbonnais, 52-year-old police constable of this village three miles east of the Ontario border, pulled six persons out of the wreckage after smashing through a window.
The train pool No. six left Toronto at 4 p.m. and was due at Montreal at 10.15 p.m. Among its passengers were several McGill University students and five football players returning from the Saturday game against Toronto Varsity.
They said the accident came as "a series of jolts. Then, we looked out and saw nine cars derailed."
The students were seated in two of the six cars that remained upright after the crash. The engine also held to the track, grinding to a stop more than a half-mile away from the crash.
The three occupants of the car jumped clear before the train struck.
Sincennes told police he was driving from Montreal. He drove slowly as he neared the track and his car stalled just as it reached the crest of the small incline.
Tried To Push
He looked out and saw the train approaching about a mile away. Sincennes and the other two occupants of the car Parent and Jacqueline Carriere, his fiancee-tried to push the vehicle across the track but were unable to budge it.
The impact was so great that part of the car remained pasted to the front of the locomotive when it came to a stop. Some 300 yards of track were uprooted as the cars wavered and then plunged off.
Five coaches, a baggage car, two parlor cars and one diner were derailed. Passengers in the two coaches nearest the front bore the brunt of the impact as the cars flipped over.
Police said a number of passengers were treated on the spot for cuts and bruises by the local druggist, who was called to the scene with first-aid supplies. They were then loaded aboard a special fleet of buses for Montreal.
Driver tells how trio missed death
By Norma Campbell Citizen Staff Writer
Gerald Sincennes, 25, of 89 Marier Road, Eastview, said to day that the engine of his 1949 automobile stalled just as the warning signals started to operate on the CNR crossing at Riviere Beaudette.
Still suffering from shock, Sincennes said that it was not until two hours after the crash that he was able to realize that his friends Jacqueline Carriere, 24, and Fernand Parent, 26, both in the front seat of the car with him, were still alive.
Sincennes expressed gratitude that there was not a high toll in the wreck of the fast Toronto-Montreal passenger train which struck his car.
Two In Hospital
Two Ottawa district people are in hospital. Marvin Place, Prescott, and Jean MacGillivray, Cornwall, were among the 40 hurt.
Sincennes and his friends missed death only by seconds in the unhappy ending to a Sunday afternoon drive.
The three had just left the home of a friend, just near the crossing. As the car got onto the tracks, it stalled.
"Just then the signal started," he said. Parent got out and tried to shove the car backward but it appeared to be locked. The two men then realized that it was a fast train and there would be no chance for it to stop in time.
Girl "Frozen"
"I yelled to the two of them to get out," Parent said today. "Gerard realized he couldn't pull the girl under the wheel and out the driver's door. She was just frozen,
"I reached in the door where I had been sitting and literally pulled her out and threw her into the ditch. It was about four feet away. I went in after her. Just as I did so a great piece of something or other missed my head by inches."
Parent thought the whole episode took hardly a minute.
Today Miss Carriere is still suffering considerably from shock.

Also from the Ottawa Citizen 17 October 1955

City Typist Describes Close Escape
Jacqueline Carriere, a passenger in the car which derailed the Toronto-Montreal express train at Riviere Beaudette last night told The Citizen today that she and her two companions had no time to warn the train to slow down and that the collision occurred when the train was travelling nearly full speed.
Miss Carriere, 24. a typist for an insurance firm here, said she was "just going for a drive yesterday with Gerald Sincennes, 25. of 89 Marier Road. Eastview. and Fernand Parent, 26. of 137 Beechwood Avenue. The trio started the drive in Ottawa, had been through Hawkesbury and  were swinging back to Ottawa after visiting friends.
The car "just stopped on the tracks," she said. The girl did not remember whether it had stalled or run out of gas, and the shock of her narrow escape obviously was still obscuring technical details.
She told The Citizen that when the vehicle would not go. she and Parent tried to push it but the train was roaring down on the crossing and the trio just had time to get out of the way.
They stayed at the scene until midnight she said, then telephoned Sincennes' brother Aldege in Cornwall to come down to the scene and take them back to Cornwall. They returned to Ottawa this morning.
Miss Carriere said she remembered the crossing was lighted and that there was a warning sign there.

From the Ottawa Citizen Tuesday 18 October 1955

Five Remain In Hospital After Wreck
MONTREAL (CP) Five persons remained in hospital today as a result of the derailment Sunday of nine cars of a CPR- CNR pool train at Riviere Beaudette, Que., 45 miles southwest of Montreal.
Seven of the 12 passengers admitted to hospital have been released. Hospital authorities in Cornwall, Valleyfield, and Montreal said the condition of the remaining patients is good.

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Updated 18 September 2020