Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1978, October 5 - Crossing accident at Vars, CNR., Alexandria sub., two fatalities

Ottawa Citizen 6 October 1978

Uncontrolled crossing blamed
Two die in car-train crash
A railroad crossing without controls near Vars is being blamed for the death of a district boy and his girlfiend Thursday night when the car in which they were riding was struck by a passenger train.
Dead are Michel Martin, 14, of Hammond, Ont., and Michelle Anne Dupuis (MacDonald), 13, of Vars.
Police say they were in the rear seat of a car driven by David Gagne, 18, of Vars. Gagne's sister, Jaqueline-Marie, 16, was in the front passenger seat.
The crossing, on Concession Road 6 less than a kilometre east of Vars, is marked only with the traditional "crossbucks" sign. There are no flashing lights or barriers.
Nearby residents said this morning the crossing is clearly dangerous and a hazard for those unfamiliar with the area.
"It's a bad crossing," said Cherri Jackson, who lives only metres away. "The train can be right upon you before you know it. If you know the crossing, there's no problem. I But for strangers, there ought to be lights.
Jackson pointed out that although the driver was not new to the area, his accident was no surprise. "You get so used to the crossing. You can cross several times a day and there'll be no train."
Local residents noted that there had been other accidents at other uncontrolled crossings near Vars and Navan, resulting in three deaths. One suggested transportation authorities had discussed installing crossing signals. But because of a proposed road change closing the crossing, nothing was done,
"It certainly would be nice if they'd put in some lights," said Bill Markell, who also lives close to the tracks. "But it always takes one person to be killed before they do anything."
 When the westbound Via Rail train struck the rear of the moving car. it flirjped the car through the air.  When it landed on its roof, all four occupants were thrown clear.
 Jacqueline-Marie Gagne was taken to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, where she was reported in satisfactory condition this morning.
David Gagne was admitted into Civic Hospital, where his condition was reported early today as serious.
Parents of the dead girl say she was a member of a cadet corps in Edwards, and was on her way home after a training session,
"She was so young. . . ." said her mother. "We're all in shock here. I can't really talk about it too much."
Michelle Anne was a student at Garneau High School in Ottawa and had been seeing Martin for some time before the accident.
Richard Martin, the dead boy's father, said his son had simply left the house, saying he was going out with friends.
"I really don't know what action we will take over what happened," he said. "I don't know anything right now. We've had a bad night ... we didn't even know where our son was before the police called us."

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