Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1961, February 14 - Quick Thinking Yardman Saves Child From Passenger Train

From the Ottawa Citizen 15 February 1961

No Thanks from Mother
Alert Yardman Pulls Tot from Train Path
A two-year-old child was snatched from possible death in front of a crack CPR passenger train by a fast-thinking railway worker at the Ottawa West station Tuesday afternoon.
Merland Bennett, 36-year-old CPR yardman, was standing near the Bayview Road crossing as the westbound Canadian came over the bridge from the Hull side of the Ottawa River.
Playing On Tracks
As the train neared the west end of the platform, Bennett saw a small child playing on the tracks in the path of the train.
Horrified, Bennett rushed over to grab the child.
The tiny tot, between two and three years old, got up and started to run away from him, westward down the track, in the same direction as the train was moving. Before Bennett  could reach him, the child had stumbled and fallen down between the rails. Bennett scooped up the scared youngster and jumped to the north side of the tracks, as the gleaming train picked up speed and continued on.
Grabbed By Mother
After the train had passed, an excited woman whom the child called "mother," grabbed the youngster from the railwayman and, without waiting to thank him, led the infant off toward Wellington Street.
A CPR spokesman said that while the train was not moving faster than five or six miles an hour at the time, it was beginning to pick up speed for its trans-Canada run westward.
He said it was "very alert action" by Mr. Bennett who ran ahead of the train to pick up the fallen child.
He added that Mr. Bennett who lives on his farm at Breckenridge, Que., has "great respect for trains," having lost part of his right hand in a yard accident in July, 1958.
Mr. Bennett is married and has two daughters, Linda, 5 and Mary, 2.

Ottawa Citizen 18 January 1962

Merland J. Bennett, CPR switchtender of Breckenridge, Que., will receive the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission medal for his act of bravery last Feb. 14. Mr. Bennett grabbed three year-old Robert McKenzie seconds before a train would have struck him as he lay between the tracks where he had fallen. The child, son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. McKenzie of 36, Melrose Ave., had wandered onto the tracks and Mr. Bennett saw the train approaching at about 12 miles per hour. Here Mr. Bennett and Robert re-enacted the event, for the benefit of a photographer. (See also page. 3).

Heros Medals Awarded
The first Carnegie Hero Fund Commission medal for bravery to be awarded to an Ottawa district man since 1942, was announced by the Commission's manager, David B. Oliver, in Pittsburgh, today.
A Carnegie bronze medal and $500 cash will go to Merland J Bennett, 36-year-old CPR switch tender, of Breckenridge, Que. Mr. Bennett saved three-year old Robert McKenzie from being killed by a train at Ottawa West station last Feb. 14.
Robert's parents are Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. McKenzie, now of 36 Melrose Ave. Mr. McKenzie is a CNR express motorman.
- - -.
Commission assistant manager Donald G. Sink said it will take four to six weeks to have the medals struck at the US. Mint at Philadelphia. The medal and cash award will be presented to Bennett by a senior CPR official at a later date in Ottawa.
More Medals Expected
"It is probable that we will have more Canadian awards this year than during the past 10 years," Mr. Sink told The Citizen.
Gave Award
There was only one award in Canada each year from 1954 to 1960, with the exception of 1956 when there were two.  Five awards were made to Canadians in 1953 and none in the years 1952 and  1951.

Ottawa Citizen 29 March 1962

Medal For CPR Hero Of Rescue
The last chapter in an exciting story that began on Feb. 14 last year, will unfold here Friday when Merland J. Bennett, 36-year-old CPR switch tender of Breckenridge, Que. receives a Carnegie Hero Medal for his act of bravery.
Mr. Bennett snatched three-year-old Robert McKenzie seconds before a train would have struck the child as he lay between the rails at Ottawa West station. The young son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. McKenzie of 36 Melrose Ave. had wandered onto the tracks and Mr. Bennett rescued him as the transcontinental train approached only yards away.
CPR assistant general manager G. W. Miller of Toronto will present the Carnegie bronze medal to Mr. Bennett who earlier received a Carnegie Hero Fund Commission cheque for $500 in recognition of his outstanding heroism.

Ottawa Citizen 31 March 1962

CPR assistant general manager G. W. Miller of Toronto and three-year-old Bobbie Mc-Kenzie, admire the Carnegie Hero bronze medal presented by Mr. Miller Friday to Merland Bennett (centre), who saved the young lad's life on Feb. 14, last year. Bennett, a 36-year-old CPR switch tender, from Breckenridge, Que., snatched the infant son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. McKenzie of 36 Melrose Ave., from the tracks as a transcontinental passenger train was passing the Ottawa West station. Mr. Bennett earlier received a $500 cash award from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission for his heroic act. Citizen-UPI Staff Photo

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Updated 6 February 2020