Toluca, IL Train Hits Open Switch, Apr 1908

Toluca ILL Train wreck 4-17-1908.jpg Toluca ILL Train wreck 4-17-1908.jpg Toluca ILL Train wreck 4-17-1908.jpg


A fearful wreck occurred near Toluca on Friday last, caused by an open switch. The train was going about 20 miles an hour at the time and the engine tender and five cars were ditched. The engineer was killed by being pinioned under the engine and scalded. All the other trainmen and passengers escaped with a severe shaking up. When the switch was examined it was found that the lock had been broken by a crowbar, which was lying near the scene. The switch light was also broken and was not burning at the time of the accident.
After breaking the lock, the switch was turned partially open and the engine plowed through the misplaced switch with such momentum that when it left the rails it ran into an ice house and knocked it down before falling on its side. Engineer COPPES was caught by the falling engine and the escaping steam caused his death.
The fireman in some manner escaped and was not injured.
The first three baggage cars were reduced to kindling wood and the baggagemen were removed from the debris with minor injuries. Two chair cars also left the track and fell on their sides. The passengers were severely shaken up, otherwise were unhurt. Two chair cars and a sleeper remained on the track. No cause can be assigned for the dastardly deed and an all day search failed to reveal any clue to the perpetrators of the deed.
Coroner W. J. Thomas was summoned to the scene and a jury empannelled as to the cause of the death of the engineer, consisting of Mike Fahy, foreman, John J. Carroll, J. D. Taylor, James Grable, G. L. Marshall and Dr. J. W. Evans.
The verdict of the jury was that BENTON COPPES, engineer, came to his death by a blow on the head received in wreck on the said Santa Fe railway on passenger train No. 1, which left the track about 1 a.m., April 17, 1908, at Toluca, Illionis; a switch apparently had been tampered with and lock on same being broken by party or parties unknown to the jury; also the train was exceeding the speed limit, and we the jury do so find.

Henry News Republican Illinois