CUT DOWN BY TRAIN. HOLIDAY PARTY. FOUR PERSONS KILLED. TRAGEDY NEAR WOY WOY.
Some holiday visitors to Woy Woy were overtaken by a holiday special train on the railway bridge near Woy Woy on Monday evening, and four of them were instantly killed. The names of those killed are: - CLIFTON WILMOT ROUGHLEY, aged 36 of Dural. Mrs. GLADYS JEAN McKENZIE, aged 42, wife of Mr. Victor McKenzie, of Gosford. HAROLD JOHN McKENZIE, aged 8; and GLADYS THYRA McKENZIE, 2½ years, children of Mrs. McKenzie. Two other children who were with the party had a wonderful escape. The accident occurred in early dusk. The scene is well known to visitors of Woy Woy as the bridge, although officially forbidden to foot-passengers, is used daily by large numbers of residents and visitors to reach cottages built along the water front north of Woy Woy.
A HAPPY HOLIDAY.
Mr. Roughley was a Dural orchardist, and he and his family, had a furnished cottage on the northern side of the bay, not far from the railway line. Here they spent a happy holiday with their children, and their friends the McKenzies, from Gosford, came down on Monday to spend the holiday with them. Mr. Roughley, with his little daughter Iris, aged 13, and son Earl, aged 9, accompanied Mrs. McKenzie and her children along the track which traverses the water to Woy Woy station. Mr. McKenzie was in Gosford. Soon after gaining the permanent way, not far from their cottage, they came to the bridge, which merely carries two sets of rails with no foot-bridge. According to statements made by eye-witnesses, it seems that they walked along or near the up line, the best course, as it would give them a view of any train approaching from Woy Woy. The children have, however, a rather hazy idea of events immediately before the accident as they are suffering acutely from the shock of the tragedy.
HOW THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED
It is believed that the little boy, Harold McKenzie, wandered on to the other track just about the time the train from Gosford swung at a rapid pace round the bend before traversing the bridge. The mother, who had the baby in her arms, rushed across to drag the boy into safety, and it is surmised that Mr. Roughley tried to save Mrs. McKenzie. The train would be hidden from view until it was quite close to the bridge, as there is a cutting just north of the bridge. It was drizzling rain at the time and getting dark. The driver saw the party crossing the bridge, and applied his brakes, but the train dashed into those on the track before it could be pulled up. The crew of the train, including the guard, at once hurried to the bridge, and found the bodies of Mr. Roughley, Mrs. McKenzie, and the boy terribly mutilated. Word was sent to Woy Woy, about a third of a mlle away, and willing hands rushed with stretchers to the scene. Constable Russell, of Woy Woy, and Constables Young and Rochester, from Newcastle, on holiday duty, removed the remains to Mr. Roughley's cottage. The baby was either thrown or forced through the sleepers, and fell into the water below. A resident of one of the cottages near by said he saw something fall from the bridge and splash in the water. The poor child was probably unconscious when it reached the water, as when the body was found there was an abrasion on the scalp. The body was found over two miles from the bridge, at Mount Pleasant, washed up on the rocks there yesterday morning, and was conveyed by the police to Woy Woy.
Edna McKenzie, another daughter, about 17 years old, jumped aside just in time to escape the fate of her mother and the others; but her younger brother, Bruce, was not so fortunate, and the train passed over him. His escape from death was remarkable. He must have fallen flat as the carriages passed, and thus received no serious injury. His sister caught sight of him under the train, and with great presence of mind grasped him by the hand and pulled him out from his dangerous position when the train stopped. The party was about 12 yards from the Woy Woy end of the bridge, and only that distance from safety when the train dashed into them. The body of Mr. Roughley was conveyed to his home at Dural on Monday night, and the remains of Mrs. McKenzie and her children were sent by train to Gosford in one coffin. Mr. W. E. Kirkness, district coroner visited the scene yesterday, and identified the bodies. An inquest will be held on Monday.
USED AS A THOROUGHFARE.
The bridge where the accident occurred spans the narrow neck of water connecting Brisbane Water with the land-locked Woy Woy Bay, and was solely intended for the passage of trains travelling along the main northern line. However, as the only other means of access to cottages on the northern foreshores of the bay and Brisbane Water is by water, the permanent-way leading from Woy Woy and this bridge form the most favoured route of communication for residents. On Monday there was a chill wind blowing in fierce gusts across the water, and crowds of people crossed the bridge to reach Woy Woy, either to catch their trains home or to do their shopping in the township. It was not a day for making perilous trips in an open boat.
A DANGEROUS CROSSING.
The bridge, used in this way, is a veritable death-trap. The railway authorities assume no responsibility, as there are notice boards
warning the public against its use. Attention has frequently been drawn by Woy Woy residents to the lack of all means of communication between the town and the northern shores of Woy Woy Bay and the adjoining waterfront of Brisbane Water. It is possible to travel across by launch or skiff, but this is not always convenient. The Erina Shire Council has not been able to carry out the work, which would necessitate a road along the permanent way and a foot traffic bridge, on account of shortage of funds. That such means of communication is absolutely essential in the interests of residents and visitors is shown by the fact that yesterday, notwithstanding the tragic event of the evening before, the bridge was still being used by persons going to and from Woy Woy. In rough weather the crossing by open boat impresses one as more dangerous than the railway bridge.
Mr. C. W. Roughley was a well-known orchardist of Dural, and took a keen interest in the work of the Fruitgrowers' Association. He attended the last conference of New South Wales fruitgrowers at Leeton as a delegate from his district. He leaves a widow and five children. Mr. Victor McKenzie, husband of the deceased woman, was formerly a Government fruit inspector, but has resided for some years in Gosford, where he is interested in land matters.
The Secretary for Railways made available the following official report of the occurrence:-
"When the 5.35 p.m. passenger train from Gosford to Sydney was passing over the Woy Woy bridge yesterday afternoon, it ran into a party of persons who were crossing the bridge, killing three of them, a man, a woman, and a boy aged 8 years. The driver blew his whistle immediately he saw the people on the bridge, and he did his utmost to pull up the train, but without avail. He did stop the train afterwards, and the guard went to Woy Woy to obtain assistance in rescuing the bodies. It is believed that another child was thrown from the bridge or jumped from the bridge into the water."
Source: The SMH 5 Jan 1921
On the same day as the abovementioned accident, relatives of the Roughley and McKenzie familes were killed in an accident as Parramatta as detailed below:
Ambrose Patrick Whiting
STEAM-TRAM AND MOTOR-CAR.
Fatal Head-on Collision.
Late on Monday afternoon a motor car, driven by Oliver Hempel of Parramatta (Sydney), with Ambrose P. Whiting, his son William, and a green grocer named Chas Gow as passengers crashed into a steam-train, near the Lennox Brigde, Parramatta (Sydney). The force of the impact was so great that the steam-engine was forced off the rails, and it swerved into the gutter, crushing the motor-car underneath it. Whiting and his son were killed instantly, and Gow died shortly afterwards from his severe injuries. Hempel was also seriously injured.
Source: The Farmer and Settler 7 Jan 1921
William Joseph Hansell
William Joseph Hansell, a slaughter-man, living at Annandale, Sydney, died at
his home on Wednesday from the effects of blood poisoning. He was chopping wood
about a week earlier, when he stood on a nail, which penetrated his heel. He
went to his work at Riverstone, but several days later he complained of a chill,
stiffness of the left leg, and left side of the head. He went to bed on Tuesday,
and Dr Bridge was called in, but Hansell died the following day.
Source: The Farmer and Settler 18 Apr 1916