Naperville, IL Disastrous Train Wreck, Apr 1946
TRAIN WRECK DEATH TOLL AT 43.
ENGINEER CHARGED WITH MANSLAUGHTER.
Naperville, Ill., (AP) -- Weary rescue workers Friday counted at least 43 dead in a terrific rear-end collision of the Burlington railroad's westbound fast Exposition Flyer and Advance Flyer Thursday.
Of 125 persons injured when the Exposition Flyer, speeding at more than 60 miles an hour toward San Francisco, rammed the stopped Advance Flyer, 31 remained in hospitals, some in critical condition. All but 5 of the dead had been identified.
The engineer of the Exposition Flyer, who Burlington railroad officials said had adequate warning that the preceding train had stopped, was charged with manslaughter. DuPage county officials said, however, this was a technicality to make certain the engineer would appear at an inquest and that no evidence of laxity had been uncovered.
The crash of the 2 steel car, diesel-powered trains occurred just 31 minutes after they left Chicago's Union station simultaneously at 12:35 p. m. CST on separate tracks, with the Advance Flyer, which ran on a faster schedule, in the lead.
The Advance Flyer, carrying 150 to 200 passengers in 9 coaches, was bound for Omaha and Lincoln, Nebr. The Exposition Flyer, made up of 11 coaches and carrying 175 to 200 persons, was headed for San Francisco.
Two minutes after the Advance Flyer made an unscheduled stop in this village of 5,287, a terrific crash roared through the countryside as the Exposition Flyer plowed into the rear of the stalled train.
A moment of tragic silence was broken by screams and cries for help from they dying and injured.
At first there was complete confusion. Huge, shining passenger coaches were strewn across torn tracks, some in tangled wreckage.
The cries of the dying came mostly from the rear coach of the Advance Flyer, where passengers were trapped. Others groped in bewilderment for escape from the mass of steel wreckage.
Eleven coaches were overturned or left the rails, 6 on the Advance Flyer and 5 on the Exposition Flyer.
Through the night, hours after the accident at 1:06 p.m. (CST), search continued for additional bodies. This was discontinued at dawn, however, when searchers were convinced all casualties had been accounted for.
Workers attempted to remove the debris and restore travel on the main line. An emergency line, however, was set up to allow through traffic.
As Burlington officials pursued their investigation of the worst accident in its history and also the most tragic in the Chicago area, State's Attorney LEE DANIELS of Du Page county said a warrant charging manslaughter had been issued for W. W. BLAINE, 68, Galesburg, Ill., engineer of the Exposition flyer.
DANIELS said the action was taken to insure BLAINE'S appearance at an inquest later into the deaths. DANIELS said he had interviewed members of the train crews and found no evidence of laxity.
The engineer suffered a skull fracture, the prosecutor said, and will not be arraigned on the manslaughter warrant for at least 2 weeks or until he is released from a hospital where he is under guard. His bond was fixed at $5,000.
DANIELS said that BLAINE, for more than 43 years a railroad man, told him that just before the collision Fireman E. H. CRAYTON warned him he was going to strike the Advance flyer. He said CRAYTON apparently jumped before the crash and was killed.
BLAINE, however, stayed at his throttle as his train sped toward the stalled Advance flyer. The Exposition flyer's silver nose plowed into the rear coach and for a fleeting moment appeared to stagger in the air, tear through the roof, then plunge with terrific force upon the floor and trucks of the car.