Dorion School Bus–Train Crash | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Dorion School Bus–Train Crash

A collision between a school bus and a freight train on 7 October 1966 killed 19 students from Cité-des-Jeunes secondary school near Vaudreuil, Quebec, and their bus driver. The crash is among the worst road disasters in Canadian history.

More than 40 students were travelling that day to a Thanksgiving weekend dance in the neighbouring town of Hudson. En route, their bus stopped at a railway level crossing in the town of Dorion. The boom gates of the level crossing had lowered to allow a passenger train to pass. After the train went by, the bus moved through the crossing, but was struck by a CN freight train, which severed the bus in two. One half of the bus was hurled into a ditch where it caught fire. The other half was dragged by the train several hundred metres down the tracks.

The bus driver and 18 passengers were killed instantly in the disaster, while another passenger later died of their injuries. A coroner’s inquest ruled the deaths as accidental. However, there were unconfirmed eyewitness reports that some students may have manually raised the crossing gates, allowing the bus to drive across the tracks following the passing of the first train. Although these reports were dismissed by the inquest, a federal inquiry into the disaster accepted testimony that someone may have raised the crossing gates, without criminal intent.

See also Motor Vehicle Disasters; Railway Disasters.