Ottawa Citizen 21 March 1957
Leading truck Convoy
Driver Dies In Wreckage As Transport Hits Train
STITTSVILLE (Staff) A transport driver died here early this morning while trapped in the wreckage of his truck which had slammed into a stationary freight train an hour earlier.
Police and fellow truck drivers worked with acetylene torches while a doctor tried in vain for 55 minutes to keep him alive.
Dead is William Young. 34, of Toronto, an employe of the Smith Transport Company for the past year.
He wax driving in a five-truck convoy headed for Ottawa when his 15-ton vehicle rammed the freight car which was straddled across Highway 15 In the center of this village. The crash occurred at 4.05.
The impact knocked the box car off its wheels and it landed on its side 10 feet from the track, main CPR line to Smiths Falls.
Other cars of the train, a way- freight from Ottawa to Smiths Falls, were not damaged and no one else was injured. A CPR employe, Ronnie Irving of 70 Bavswater Street Ottawa, was standing at the switch a few feet from the center of the crash.
"There was a terrific bang and a lot of sparks and I heard someone scream," he said. "I ran to the truck and this fellow handed me his watch. He said 'you better take this', but there was nothing left of it"
Bv that time. Phil Davies. of Toronto, second driver In the eonvov had stopped his truck and arrived at the flattened cab. "Bill was moaning but when I asked him if he was badly hurt, he just said: 'I feel pretty numb all over; you better get me out of here."
Villagers who heard the noise ran to the scene and equipment was brought from a nearby garage to cut the twisted metal away from Young's legs.
Dr. Wilfried Igel. of Stittsville, gave Young sedative and police held him upright while an attempt was made to put the acetylene torch into operation.
But it was impossible to get at the wreckage while the injured driver remained in the cab and Davies hooked his truck to the damaged transport in an attempt to pull the metal apart
Young died before the operation could be completed. Dr. Igel said he could have been laved if taken to a hospital immediately after the accident.
Davies said he was seven or eight truck lengths behind his friend when Young's cab crumpled into the freight.
"He Just couldn't see it in time," Davies said. "We were only travelling at about 26 or 27 miles an hour but the freight was right across the road and the wig-wag signal (which was working) was, hidden.
"It was just like suddenly coming up against a brick wall in the middle of the night There was no one signalling to us or anything."
Ed Doyle, also of Toronto, was third truck in the line. "We had stopped for coffee at Kinburn and we had changed places. I was lead driver before that" he said. "Bill was talking about his family and about how his daughter would be after him to get her a ticket to see Elvis Presley.
"I knew he was pretty well finished when I talked to him in the cab after the crash and I wanted to ask him if he had anything to say to his family. But I knew it would be better If I didnt say a word about him dying."
Two ambulances stood by while attempts were made to free the trapped man who was bathed in the glare of a huge spotlight Although more than 100 persons had gathered, no one spoke in tones above a whisper.
The 39-car train was dropping off the freight car of dry goods at Stittsville. The car was fifth from the engine. The truck was loaded with groceries bound for a chain store in Ottawa. Neither load was seriously damaged.
The box car, although knocked onto its side, was not wrecked and the transport's trailer also escaped serious damage The wig-wag signal was clipped off its cement foundation and the "stop, look, listen" signs were strewn on the highway.
Highway traffic was rerouted via side roads while cranes worked this morning to shift the box car. The railway line was easily cleared by lifting the wheels to one side. The track apparently was not damaged.
George Pogue, CPR Assistant Superintendent in Ottawa, arrived shortly after the crash to begin an investigation.
From the Ottawa Citizen 3 May 1957
Blame DividedA CPR lawyer blasted Assistant Crown Attorney Dan Chilcott at a coroner's inquest Tuesday after Mr. Chilcott suggested to the jury that there had been some measure of criminal negligence in connection with a fatal acci dent involving the railway.
Negigence Suggested In Crossing Fatality
The jury was inquiring into fthe March 2! accident which took the life of William Thomas Young of Toronto. 37-year-old Smith Transport driver whose truck slammed into a stationary box car at a CPR level crossing over Highway 15 in Stittsville.
The jury found that the deceased and members of the train crew contributed to the cause of the fatality by not taking proper precautions.
Young died shortly before 5 a.m. roughly an hour after the crash while would-be rescuers tried vainly to free him from his crumpled cab.
Some Negligence"I think there is some negligence in this case of the type that is criminal," Mr. Chilcott said.
"1 don't know who should be charged or who is negligent . . .and although it probably won't go any further than the four walls of this court, I would like to suggest that the jury recommend that box cars have white luminous stripes running the length of them and possibly also a flasher," he said.
Witnesses testified that an unlighted "railway crossing sign 500 feet from the tracks probably was the only warning visible to Young. They said a wig-wag signal on the east side of the tracks had been hidden by the halted car.
The weather at the time was described as "misty" and driving conditions as "poor.
"Normal Procedure"Members of the five-man train crew told the court the box car normally would be across the highway for only 30 sconds. They said it was "normal procedure" to carry out the operation of dropping off a box car without stationing a man on the highway to warn drivers.
G. C. Butterill, of Toronto, a solicitor for the CPR, said "this is the only inquest I have attended at which the crown suggested any thought of a criminal charge to the jury. I think it is very much out of order."
The verdict said "it is the opinion of this jury that the transport driver should have been ready to stop before going over the crossing if necessary; we also believe that the .box car should have been stopped clear of the crossing until the signal was given by the flagman.
We further recommend that at all level crossings in villages, towns and cities, trainmen should be stationed at the crossings to warn all traffic during shunting operations and that signal devices should be installed in such a manner, that they should be visible to all traffic.
"In this accident we hold that the deceased and members of the train crew contributed to the cause of this fatality by not taking necessary precautions."
The inquest was conducted be fore Coroner Dr. C. D. Wallace of Richmond.