On 7th January 1956, around 9.50pm, the southern bound North Coast Mail train No. 14 collided with a 1950 Studebaker utility, on the Wingham-Taree Road level crossing, manned by sixteen-year-old Peter John Hinton. Due to some confusion about train running times, Peter was waiting for the 3A train from Wingham to come through first.
Trainee engineman and fireman on No.14, Jule Maxwell McDonald, saw the gates were open and the vehicle lights coming towards the crossing. He called for the train driver to hit the emergency brakes. The utility was hauled some 200 metres down the track on the front of the engine, to hang over the viaduct.
The utility occupants, three-year-old Neville Allan Yarnold, died instantly and seriously injured father Colin Roy Yarnold were thrown to the side of the track. The mother, Nola May Yarnold also died instantly and the five-year-old sister Lillian May Yarnold, seriously injured, were caught in the utility wreckage.
The coroner remarked that manning the gates was a very responsible job, too big for a youth of 15 or 16. A 24-hour check from 4th to 5th February 1956, revealed 968 vehicles and 36 trains had used the crossing.1
Author: Robin Sheppard
1 Wingham Chronicle, 21 February 1956.