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COLLIERY LINE TRAGEDY ENGINE-DRIVER KILLED CONTROL LOST ON GRADE PLUNGE INTO CREEK BED [from ottr own correspondent] HAMILTON, Tuesday A shocking accident occurred on the Wilton Coal Company's railway line between Glen Massey and Ngaruawahia at 7.40 a.m. to-day, when a train consisting of an engine and six coal trucks, owned by the Wilton Coal Company, Limited, became out of control and, after running a distance of 4£ miles along a steep downgrade, was derailed and completely wrecked. The driver, Mr. William Kerr McLean, a married man, aged 42, was killed instantly. He was Iho only occupant of the train. Mr. McLean had taken the employees of the Wilton Coal Company, Limited, from their homes at Glen Massey to their work at the colliery, a mile to the west, at seven o'clock this morning. Assisted by the fireman, Mr. John Cummings, and the guard, Mr. Raymond Tanfield, he prepared a rake of trucks at the col* liory bins for transport to Ngaruawahia Six Trucks Attached There were three 16-ton trucks, one 10-ton truck, and two six-ton trucks, all constructed of wood, in the train. All the trucks were filled with coal. There was no guard's van attached to the train. The guard went to change the points behind the train and signalled to the driver to back. The train, however, kept going forward. The fireman, Mr. Cummings, applied the brakes to the trucks, but managed to operate the brakes only on one. The Westinghouse brake was not connected owing to the absence of the guard's van. While Mr. Cummings was examining the braking system of the trucks the train started to move, and he received a blow which knocked him down, but did not injure him. When he recovered the train had developed a high speed. Eye-witnesses saw the train pass through Glen Massey at a speed estimated at 40 miles an hour. Mr. McLean was seen making frantic efforts to stop the engine. He tried to reverse, but the mechanism carried away and dropped on to the track. The train was completely out of control and it gathered momentum as it flew at a terrific speed down the steep grade. Warning Whistles Mr. McLean frequently blew the whistle of the engine to warn anyone who might be on the line. An iron bar fell from the engine and ripped the sleepers for a considerable distance. The train thundered over a long and high viaduct and passed Windy Point, four miles from Glen Massey and three miles from Ngaruawahia. On reaching an S bend 20 yards from the bridge at Firewood Creek, the engine struck a bank on the north side! of the track, spread the rails, and crashed into the 1 creek, 15ft. below. So great was the speed of the train that a double truck at the rear was thrown completely over the bridge and landed in a splintered mass on the track. The whole of the remainder of the train enme to rest in a crumpled heap, partly in the creek and partly on the track. Buried Beneath Coal There were two eye-witnesses to the tragedy and messages were sent to Glen Massey and Ngaruawahia for help. Dr. D. Martin, of Ngaruawahia, made an exceptionally quick trip to the scene of the accident.- Mr. McLean was found buried under a heap of coal. lie was quickly extricated, but was found to be dead. His back had been broken in several places and he had received severe scalds from escaping ste'am from the engine. Mr. McLean had been employed driving the engine for 15 years. He was a very popular and efficient railwayman, and was greatly esteemed by his employets and fellow-workers. Some time ago Mr. McLean had a similar experience when a train containing 35 trucks got out of control on the same line. He succeeded in pulling the train up just before it reached Ngaruawahia. Great Courage Shown It is the opinion of those who know him and are familiar with the circumstances connected with the running of the train that Mr. McLean acted with great courage! this morning and that he held to his post , and did his utmost to negotiate the train past the S bend at Windy Point in tho hope that once that danger was behind him he would be able to pull up along the slight up-grade in the line between Firewood Creek and Ngaruawahia. He could have jumped clear long before the crash occurred. Mr. McLean lived in Riro Street, Hamilton, and came home at week-ends. He is survived by his wife and four children. An inquest was opened at Ngaruawahia to-day and was adjourned. No work was done at tho Wilton Company's mine to-day. A crane has been requisitioned from the Railway Department to clear away the broken trucks and to lift the engine from the bed of the creek. It will bo several days before the track can be clc'ared and repaired.

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Bibliographic details

TRAIN WRECKED, New Zealand Herald, Volume LXX, Issue 21453, 29 March 1933

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TRAIN WRECKED New Zealand Herald, Volume LXX, Issue 21453, 29 March 1933