North Branford, CT Trolley Car Collision, Aug 1917

INQUIRY INTO TROLLEY CRASH.

19 PERSONS KILLED AND TWO SCORE INJURED IN COLLISION AT NO. BRANFORD, CONN.

SLEEPY MOTORMAN SAID TO HAVE RUN PAST SWITCH -- WORKED 16 HOURS.

New Haven, Conn., Aug. 14. -- Inquiry into the collision of trolley cars on the Shore Line electric railway at North Branford late yesterday, in which nineteen persons lost their lives and nearly two score of passengers were hurt, was opened this morning by Deputy Coroner Kenneth Wynne. The examination of witnesses was in chambers, and the state's attorney's office asn the public utilities commission were represented.
It was understood that the interstate commerce commission would follow the taking of testimony although the railway is an intrastate one.
It is not expected the hearing will be protracted. The passenger's, most of whom are in hospitals, the survivors of the crews of the two cars, officers of the company and a few persons who might have been near the scene of the wreck are expected to be questioned.
Late last night 11 of the 17 bodies which had been taken in charge by Branford undertakers had been identified and removed. Early today the body of MRS. WILLIAM HOFER of Guilford was recognized, and as many persons were arriving at Branford from the shore towns east of there, touched by the shore lineroad. It was expected that within a few hours all the bodies will have been claimed.
Seventeen persons were killed outright in the crash of the two trolleys. LEONARD R. HOTCHKISS died last midnight at the hospital, and early this morning ERNEST A. KOLIN, 23, of Clinton succumbed. One other patient, MRS. RUTH GRANNIS, is in a critical condition.
Motorman WESLEY NEGUS of Saybrook and Conductor WILLIAM J. TRYON of Ivoryton, crew of the extra westbound trolley which had left a turnout and was proceeding on the running time of the car from New Haven, were under guard at a hotel at Branford during the night and they came to the county court building here for the hearing today.
The cause of the accident apparently has been determined on statements made by NEGUS, both to persons at the wreck and to Deputy Coroner Wynne. He said that he left Guilford on time and that upon reaching the switch at North Branford he went into it for a few minutes and then preceeded. He said he had been working hard and was tired. He rested his head on the controller box, and awakened to find himself on the ground. The car had rounded a curve a short distance beyond the turnout, crashing into the car from New Haven on a short stretch of straightaway track.
NEGUS says he had been working for 16 hours without a rest and he is said to have reiterated this when questioned by the deputy coroner. He is said to have claimed that the company was short of men and that as he need the extra money, having been ill recently, he had taken on the extra run.

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