Dorion level crossing accident

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Dorion level crossing accident
Details
Date Evening of October 7, 1966 (1966-10-07)
Location Dorion, Quebec
Statistics
Vehicles School Bus, CN Rail Freight Train
Passengers 42
Deaths 19 (including the driver)
Injuries ?

The Dorion level crossing accident occurred on October 7, 1966, when a school bus carrying 42 students was struck by a CN Rail freight train travelling at full speed in Dorion, Quebec, Canada (now a part of Vaudreuil-Dorion).

Summary[edit]

On the evening of October 7, at about 7:35 p.m., approximately 40 students were travelling by school bus to a dance, when the bus reached a level crossing. The gates lowered, preventing the school bus from crossing and allowing an eastbound train to continue its route. After the train had passed, the gates rose, allowing the school bus to cross. As the bus began to drive over the level crossing, a second train heading west, without warning, struck the bus and split it in half, dragging one half with it for over 2000 feet (600 m). The other half of the bus was found in a ditch approximately 300 feet (91 m) from the crossing. Of the 41 people aboard, 19 were killed instantly, including the bus driver. Many of the injured were taken to the Lakeshore General Hospital in Pointe Claire, PQ. One young man subsequently died of his injuries. Funerals for the deceased occurred on October 11, 1966 at the Cité-des-Jeunes high school, where the students had gone to school.

Possible causes[edit]

After the accident there was much speculation as to its cause. Hypotheses included malfunctioning crossing gates, and that a number of students lifted the gate to clear the bus's path. After years of investigation the coroner released a statement declaring accidental death with no criminality, and the investigation was closed soon thereafter. The coroner's report concluded the crossing gates were not defective and that eyewitness testimony proved that two or more students lifted the gates despite the possibility of another oncoming train.

Aftermath[edit]

After receiving numerous complaints, requests to reopen the investigation and public demonstrations of disagreement by the citizens of the city of Dorion, the level crossing was replaced by a double underpass by direction of Paul Gérin-Lajoie during November 1972.

On October 7, 2006, Francine Tougas displayed her documentary entitled Survivre at the Cité-des-Jeunes high school. Survivre documents the reaction to the Dorion level crossing accident by the government, CN Rail, citizens of the city of Dorion, the families of the 19 students killed, and the families of the surviving students.

References[edit]

  • Daigneault, Marc (October 11, 2006). "L'accident ferroviaire de Dorion... enfin sur film!". L'Étoile.