The morning express to Montreal (No. 232) was struck behind the engine by a northbound [gravel] truck at the crossing in Leonard and the coaches and heavyweight parlour cars derailed. At least one 2200-class coach (no 2294) rolled on to its side and skidded several hundred feet before coming to a stop (end-on) against large trees, the only thing that protected an occupied CPR house. As this coach bounced along the roadbed, passengers were ejected through the shattered windows and crushed or severely injured. The number killed was 8 immediate, possibly more afterwards.
Bill Linley went to the wreck scene and took these photographs:
Ottawa Citizen 21 August 1964
Eight Die in Train Wreck
'A woman wass crying: Help me'
By Bob Rupert Citizen staff writer
LEONARD "I was lucky-the woman beside me died."
These were the sad remarks of 58-year-old Hull chef Dominique Galgery at the scene of this tragic derailment.
Galgery, who was sitting near the middle of a CPR train to Montreal, said "All of a sudden the gravel was flying and the people were falling out the windows.
Moaning and screaming
"They were moaning and screaming as I came out a window. My hat is still in there."
A stout oak tree may have saved the life of widow Mrs. Jane Wood who lives alone in a house 60 feet north of the track. One of the rolling cars stopped against the tree less than 15 feet from her back porch.
"I was in bed," said Mrs. Wood. "I heard a crash and I heard the women crying.
"When I got to the porch they were sitting there bleeding something terrible. There was a nun that was in awful pain. She was moaning and making an awful noise."
Pump house smashed
Mrs. Melvin Larmour, who lives about 50 yards from the track, said she was just getting ready to bake bread "when I heard the bang and saw the smoke.
"I said to my granddaughter, 'there's been a wreck', and right away I saw the pump house had been smashed.
"One woman was crying 'help me, help me, help me'. I got blankets and covered her I did what I could."
Witnesses said the injured and dying were treated at the scene by Dr. I. F. Kennedy of Cumberland. Assisting him shortly before a squadron of ambulances arrived were Dr. William Tweedy, district coroner, and Dr. Addy Power of Rockland.
One witness said a priest was lying on the ground with one of his legs severed at the knee. The priest told doctors "I'm all right."
Trainman W. C. Yendall said No. 232 was due to arrive in Montreal at 10 a.m.
"I was at the front of the train and I got it stopped. Then I cam back."
When The Citzen asked Mr. Yendall what he had seen, he pointed to the body of the truck driver and said "You see that? There are more of them up there."
Gladys Barnes of 30 Walker St., Hull, trudged down the track, her battered suitcase in hand, and breathed "I was fortunate it was a miracle.
"I was in the parlor car and there was a great flash. Flames were coming from both sides. The old gentleman beside me rolled along the aisle and smashed his head against a window.
"People were lying half in and half out the windows, screaming."
Miss Barnes, a National Film Board employee, was going to Montreal to attend a board meeting this morning.
Truck derails cars, 30 hurt
By Joe Finn Citizen staff writer
LEONARD Eight persons were killed and upwards of 30 were injured today when a gravel truck crashed into the side of one of the coaches of the fast CPR Ottawa-Montreal flyer here at 8.15 a.m.
Four cars of the train which left Ottawa at 7.55 a.m. were derailed. Most of the dead and injured were passengers riding in a sealed coach fourth from the rear of the train.
Impact lifts coaches off tracks
Leonard is 20 miles east of Ottawa.
The truck driver was killed instantly
The other seven dead were passengers.
Victims identified at press time were:
Basil Czopyk, about 30, of 330 Friel St., Ottawa, the truck driver.
Sister St. Eliza, Mount St. Bernard, Antigonish, N.S.,1
Andre Roy, Quebec City.
The gravel truck, going north, smashed into the side of car N. 2294 at the crossing in the centre of the village. The rear part of the train lifted from the tracks and tore up more than 150 yards of right of way.
The truck carried seven to eight tons of gravel.
The crossing is marked with a white "X" warning sign only.
It was the worst accident in the history of the village. Some bodies were thrown clear of car 2294 which was titled at a crazy angle and jammed against a big elm tree 20 feet from the home of Mrs. Jane Wood.
The other three coaches derailed stayed upright.
It was a scene of horror.
Screams rose from the shattered fifth car, where most of the dead were found.
Flames licked round rear coaches, terrifying passengers trapped inside.
Injured passengers, their hands and faces torn and bloody, crawled through shattered windows and collapsed on the ground.
Villagers Help Carry Out Bodies
One woman knelt on the ground with her arms around a woman's body shouting, "This is my sister! This is my sister!'
A witness said there were "bits and pieces of people" lying all around.
A small boy saw his mother and father die.
A witness said he heard some priests praying as they lay dying or critically injured.
Mrs. Jane Wood who lives beside the crossing, said she was lying in bed awake when she heard the screech of the air whistle of the diesel locomotive of the flyer.
"Seconds later I heard a terrible, grinding crash. I jumped out of bed and ran to the window and there seemed to be dust and smoke everywhere in the air.
"The smoke cleared and I saw one of the railroad coaches up against the tree almost outside my window. I could hear women screaming and men shouting for help.
"It was the worst experience of my life."
The scene in the village was one of wild confusion following the crash. Villagers hurried to the scene and helped members of the tiain crew carry the dead, dying and injured from the smashed coaches.
Ottawa Citizen 22 August 1964
Police finish identification of 8 vistims
The grim task of formally identifying the eight victims of Friday morning's train-truck crash at Leonard was still being carried out by police today.
Some were so badly mangled and slashed by the heavy plate glass used in railway coaches that identification was made through names in clothing and tell-tale physical characteristics.
'They had been cut to pieces'
"They had been cut to pieces," said Const. Ronald Collins of the Rockland Ontario Provincial Police detachment, one of the first at the scene.
It was Const. Collins' job to see that all severed limbs were assembled with the proper torsos.
The dead have been identified as:
Basil Czopyk, 43, who roomed at 330 Friel St. and driver of the gravel truck that smashed into the fast -moving Ottawa - Montreal flyer.
Sister St. Eiiza, 46, a Roman Catholic nun of the Congregation of Notre Dame, returning to St. Bernard College, Antigonish, N.S.
Sister Marie de St. Maurice, 63, general bursar for the Sisters of Joan of Arc at the Ottawa Institute of Joan of Arc.
Mhs. John Palmer, 37, of 196 Metcalfe St., Ottawa, on her way to visit a friend in Montreal.
Mrs. Jean Poulin, 39, of Quebec City, returning home after a visit with her sister in Ottawa.
Monique Roy, 51, of St. Gervais, Quebec, and her nephew, Andre Roy, 18, also of St. Ger-vais. Both were returning home after visiting a relative in Ottawa.
Dimitrius Georgiles, 41, a civil servant with the forestry -department going to Montreal to write his final two university exams.
Performed amputation at scene
Twenty -three persons were injured, two seriously. Fourteen were admitted to hospital.
Dr. I. F. Kennedy of Cumberland performed an emergency leg amputation at the scene. Doctors William Tweedy and Addy Power, both of Rockland, also rushed to the site to treat the injured and dying.
The collision occurred about 8.20 a.m., 25 minutes after the non-stop train left Union Station.
It was 1 p.m. before railway emergency crews, using acetylene torches, freed the last body from the wreckage.
The northbound truck, loaded with seven to eight tons of gravel for roadwork under way at nearby Navan, rammed into the last coach, knocking it off the track.
The coach, carrying about 35 passengers, careened wildly along the roadbed for 300 feet, coming to rest at a dangerous angle against a huge poplar tree.
The diner and parlor car also jumped the track but remained upright. All railway passenger victims had been in the coach car.
The undamaged section of the train later continued on to Montreal, arriving at the Montreal West station at 12.33 p.m., one hour and 48 minutes behind schedule.
Swerved to left at last minute
An inquest will be held into the death of the truck driver. Its findings will cover the deaths of the other seven victims.
Police were not able to explain why Czopyk did not see the train. The Fifth Line, on which the truck was travelling, crosses the tracks at right angles with nothing to impair a driver's vision.
Const. Collins said there were no skid marks but Czopyk had swerved to the left in a last minute attempt to avoid a collision.
A passenger said the truck ran into the ditch and up the other side, striking the fourth coach high up. The rear of the truck then swung around, smashing into the train between the coach and diner.
Trucks had been hauling gravel along the road for several weeks and residents of the area had complained amongst themselves about the speed at which they travelled along the gravel road.