Wanstead, ON Train Collision, Dec 1902



London, Ontario, Dec. 27. -- A frightful collision occurred last night between a passenger and a freight train on the Grand Trunk Railroad at Wanstead, a station on the Sarina branch of that road, and according to the latest reports from the scene of the accident thirty persons were killed and eighteen were injured. The passenger train was the Pacific express No. 5, westbound. It was running at a high rate of speed and the freight which was passing east under slow headway, was to have taken the switch at Wanstead to allow the passenger train to pass. Apparently neither engineer saw the danger in time to avoid the accident, for the two engines came together near the west switch with a frightful crash, over-turning into the ditch. The baggage and express cars telescoped into the smoker with appalling results. The wreck was complete and it is thought that hardly a single passenger escaped injury. The other cars of the passenger train remained on the track. Word was quickly sent to this city and doctors were soon on the scene. The work of removing the dead and injured was then proceeded with.
Both engineer and fireman of the freight train are missing.
The ill-fated express consisted of two baggage cars, a smoker, two first class coaches and two Pullmans. The smoker, which was telescoped by the coach behind it, had the sides knocked out of it, the roof falling and imprisoning the passengers.
It was in this car that most of the awful havoc and loss of life occurred.
The wreck shortly after the collision caught fire and but for the efforts of a brigade of passengers organized and led by an old man, who was himself a passenger on the ill-fated train, the disaster might have been more disastrous to those pinned down in the wreckage. The brigade put out the fire by throwing snow on the flames with their hats and hands. They turned their efforts toward getting out the wounded. Their sufferings were augmented by a blinding snow storm and a thermometer near zero.
The dead and injured are arriving in London by special train this morning and the work of identifying the dead and in caring for the sufferers is being hurried as fast as possible.
The bodies taken from the wreck were frightfully mangled, some of them almost beyond recognition. The scenes attending the removal of the dead bodies from the wreckage were pitiful in the extreme. Several of the women on the train fainted, and the air was filled with the anxious cries of those separated from their loved ones, not knowing whether they were killed or saved.
MISS NELLIE GEDDES, of Sarnia, was among the killed. She was returning with her sister, BEATRICE, from a visit to relatives in this city. BEATRICE was slightly injured, and was brought back to London on one of the early relief trains. Not finding her sister here she became convinced that she had been saved and had gone on to Sarnia, and this morning BEATRICE left for home confident that she would there meet her sister.

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