|Brockville Recorder Monday 4 January 1971|
Transcribed with thanks to Phil Jago
From a cutline under the photo of Engine 5206 which has its rear end slung up by the big hook.
DERAILED ENGINE - Derailed CN engine No. 5206 is shown here being lifted back onto the rails Sunday morning, several hours after it went off the tracks in front of the gatehouse at the Perth street crossing. The collision upset an oil stove in the gatehouse and the wooden gatehouse burst into flames, almost taking the life of the gateman. Louis Philippe Desmarais received second degree burns to 40 per cent of his body. He is in St. Vincent de Paul hospital. The derailed engine was moved to Montreal for inspection. Cause of the derailment has not been determined but a track supervisor said Sunday one wheel of the engine went off the track 900 feet east of the gatehouse and when the engine hit a frog in front of the gatehouse it bounced off the track and hit the gatehouse.
Engine Wrecks Tower, Gateman Severely Burned
A CNR gateman is in serious condition in St. Vincent de Paul hospital today suffering from second degree burns to 40 percent of his body as a result of an engine derailment at the Brockville CN station early Sunday.
Louis Philippe (Phil) Desmarais, 61, of 70 William street was tending the gate at the main CN crossing on Perth street in front of the CN station when one of two engines switching a caboose onto a freight train slipped off the tracks in front of his watchman’s gatehouse and toppled the 20-foot high tower to the ground.
An oil stove in the gatehouse was upset by the force of the collision and the wooden building burst into fire. Flames engulfed the gateman and nearly took his life.
The near-tragic accident occurred about 1:30 a.m. Sunday.
Mr. Desmarais was rescued from the burning gatehouse by two other CN employees, Bruce Emberley and Leo Rousselle, but not before he had received extensive burns to his head, face, arms, hands, neck and thighs.
The injured gateman is under intensive care at St. Vincent de Paul hospital where he was taken by ambulance shortly after the accident. Hospital officials report Mr. Desmarais “resting comfortably”.
Mr. Desmarais is a 27-year veteran employee with CN. He has been a gateman for the past two years. Sunday he was working the midnight to 8 a.m. shift.
The engine which was derailed was one of two pushing a caboose from a spur line onto the eastbound main line, to be added later to a freight train travelling from Montreal to Toronto.
Engineer Ernest Gibbs of Belleville, was at the controls when the derailment occurred.
The cause of the derailment is still under investigation. Earl Woito, track supervisor from Cornwall, told the Recorder and Times Sunday he believed one wheel of the derailed engine went off the track about 900 feet east of the watchman’s gatehouse when “a sharp flange on the wheel split a switch”.
When the engine approached the gatehouse with one wheel off the track, it hit a “frog”, a switching spot in the rails about 40 feet east of the gatehouse and bounced off the track. The derailed engine was travelling in reverse and the front end swung over to strike the gatehouse and knocked it down.
The sound of the collision attracted the attention of railway men in the yard office and the alert action of Mr. Rouselle and Mr. Emberley save Mr. Desmarais’ life. Firemen were on the scene minutes after the blaze broke out and put the fire in quick order.
City police closed vehicular traffic to the north and south of the railway station on Perth stree. (sic)
The derailed engine came to rest just west of Perth street on the eastbound main track. It was removed rom the track Sunday at 11:30 a.m., and taken to Montreal for examination. Eastbound traffic was not hindered by the stricken engine, being re-routed past the station on the westbound track.
Mr. Emberley of Lyn, a railway fireman had just completed a shift and was getting ready to go home. He described his part in the rescue of Mr. Desmarais: ‘I had just come in from Montreal on the freight train and was putting my gear away in the yard office. From inside, we heard a bang but thought someone had “coupled up” hard.
“We paid no attention to it for a minute, then we went out and saw the tower on fire and heard a fellow hollering from inside.”
He described the flames from the burning tower as “intense”.
He said “it went up like a tinder box”.
Mr. Emberley and Mr. Rousselle, who was the engine crew dispatcher on duty in the yard office, rushed to the tower and pulled Mr. Desmarais from the flames.
“I had heavy clothes on and the flames didn’t bother me too much. Desmarais was groping his way out of the tower when we reached in from the outside and pulled him out.
“We threw him on the ground and I took my coat off and put it over him. The coat and snow we thew on him put the flames out”.
A third CN employee, Roy Smallett, the on-duty operator, assisted in removing the injured man to the waiting room at the station before he was taken to hospital by ambulance.
Toppled Gatehouse – Fireman inspect the charred remains of the watchman’s gatehouse at the CN crossing on Perth street which burst into flames early Sunday when hit by a derailed engine. The burning building nearly took the life of the watchman in the gatehouse, Louis Philippe Desmarais, 61, of Brockville. The 20-foot high gatehouse was set ablaze by an oil stove which was upset when the gatehouse was struck by a derailed engine switching a caboose onto a freight train. Mr. Desmarais was dragged from the burning gatehouse by two fellow employees, Bruce Emberley and Leo Rousselle, but not before he received extensive second degree burns to about 40 per cent of his body. Later, wreckage of the gatehouse was bull-dozed into a corner of the parking lot, for later removal.
Louis Philippe Desmarais is shown here on the floor of the waiting room at the CN station following his rescue from his burning gatehouse early Sunday. The 61-year-old gateman received second degree burns to his head, face, neck, arms, hands and thighs before he was rescued by fellow employees Bruce Emberley and Leo Rousselle. Mr. Rousselle can be seen in the background looking on while ambulance attendants, in white pants and Roy Smallett, another CN employee who assisted in removing Mr. Desmarais to the waiting room, tend the injured man before his removal to St. Vincent de Paul hospital. Hospital officials report Mr. Desmarais ‘resting comfortably’ today.
Louis Philippe Desmarais
Fire Awakened Photographer
Windsor Star Monday 4 January 1971
Engine mishap hurts watchman
BROCKVILLE, Ont. (CP) An engine jumped the track at a Canadian National Railway crossing Sunday, toppled a watchman's gatehouse which caught fire from an upset oil stove and injured the watchman.
Louis Philip Desmarais, 62, of Brockville, was dragged out of the building by fellow employees and taken to hospital with second-degree burns.
The yard engine had been switching a caboose onto a freight train when the engine struck the watchtower.