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Train Crew Give Evidence of Events After the Explosion


McKie and Verigin Side by Side When Death Blast Occurred

GRAND FORKS. B.C. — Oct. 29. — First authentic details of the wreck- ing of the Kettle Valley railway coach by explosion near Farron, early this morning, reached Grand Forks at 5 o'clock this evening, when the special train with bodies of John McKie, M.P.P. for Grand Forks, and Peter Verigin head of the Doukhobor community, and of two unidentified persons, with returned officials, arrived here.

Wrecked Car Bursts Into Flames

Farron is an isolated station on the summit between the Columbia and Kettle valleys, with only railway communication. The coast train from Nelson was proceeding westward from Farron about 1 o'clock, when an explosion occurred in the center of the day coach, completely wreck- ing the car, which broke into flames, and leaving a scene of horror which those engaged in rescue work find difficulty in recounting, so unnerved have they become with their experi- ence.

First impression was that the wreck had been caused by the gas tank under the car, but this has been found to be intact. From splinters on the track below where the coach had been at the time would confirm the belief that some form of dyna- mite had exploded within the coach.

Twenty-one in Coach

There were 21 persons in the coach at the time, and all except two ap- pear to have been killed or injured, these two proceeded on the train to the coast.

So terrific was the explosion that more than half of the pas- sengers were blown clear of the car, and left a gruesome spec- tacle of mutilated humanity and wreckage for nearly 100 feet.

The body of John McKie was found 50 feet away, with severe wounds about the head, but other- wise unhurt.

That of Verigin was found close to him with one leg torn from the trunk. They had been sit- ting in adjoining seats, close to where the explosion occurred.

A body of an identified person, believed to be a Hindu, was mutilated beyond recognition, while the charred remains of another person taken from the burned coach is also thought to be a Hindu.

Three others taken from the wreck, rushed back to Nelson in a special train, died on the way. They were Neil Murray, rancher, of Grand Forks, who was returning from Trail; W.J. Armstrong of North Vancouver, com- mercial traveler, and Mary Svrenoli, a Doukhobor girl traveling with Verigin.

H.K. Fawcett of Vancouver, news- agent on the train is one of the five injured at Grand Forks hospital. His condition is critical, but he is holding his own. The others are: Mr. and Mrs. T. Russo of Trail, Pat- rick O'Shaughnessy of Montreal, and a China man, all suffering from shock and slight injuries.

Veteran Had Attended Board

Neil Murray, who has died as the result of injuries, leaves a wife and three children. He took part in the football game here Sunday and then went to Trail for examination by the department of soldiers civil re-estab- lishment. He had been sitting with MacKie, over whose body he was leaning when picked up. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Murray, reside here.

Inquest on the bodies of those brought to Grand Forks is proceeding tonight, before Coroner Dr. Kingston, but only the train crew are being ex- amined, and it is expected there will be an adjournment till tomorrow, w hen it is understood some experts on explosives will come from the coast to give evidence.

The evidence so far had produced no special information. as none of the crew were in the car at the time.

Source: "Inquest on Bodies Opens at Grand Forks," Nelson Daily News, October 30, 1924.

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