Rockville, MD Train - Bus Wreck, Apr 1935
13 Students Die as Train Hits Bus, Carries It A Mile
Dead in Crash Near Suburb
of Washington May Mount to
Score, Railway Hears.
TEACHER, DRIVER ESCAPE
Bodies Strewn Along Tracks
— High School Party Was on
Way Home From Exhibit
ROCKVILLE, Md., Friday, April
12.— An express train last night
crushed into wreckage a school
bus, bringing a death toll estimated
by police at thirteen.
Physicians and police placed the
known death toll at that figure
shortly after the accident, but the
Baltimore offices of the Baltimore
& Ohio Railroad, whose train was
involved, announced that the death
list was between nineteen and
The driver of the bus, Percy
Line, said he knew nothing of the
approaching train until a whistle
screamed, followed instantly by the
impact which tore the bus virtually
in two, tossing the bodies of its
young occupants along the right-of-
way as the train ground to a
Twenty-eight pupils of the Williamsport,
Md., High School, the
driver and Miss Louise Funk, a
teacher, were in the bus. They
were returning from a chemistry
exhibition at the College Park
branch of the University of Maryland.
No Watchman at Crossing
Members of the Rockville rescue
squad, local volunteer organization
which aided in removing the dead
and injured, said that after 10
P. M. the crossing had no watchman,
although a warning bell
sounded at the approach of trains.
Police declared the view of the
crossing was normally good, although
rain and fog made visibility
low last night.
Most of the dead were riding in
the rear of the bus, which bore the
brunt of the impact. The teacher
and driver, with the pupils who
were not seriously injured, were in
the forward end.
Immediate identification of many
of the dead was made difficult by
the mangled condition of many of
The accident occurred virtually in
the outskirts of this village, located
sixteen miles north of Washington.
Ambulances were hurried from
Washington to the scene.
The train, an express Eastbound
from St. Louis, caught the wreckage
of the bus up and carried it
what police estimated at a mile
before it could be stopped. Railroad
men said the train was not derailed.
Line, the driver, and Miss Funk,
the teacher, suffered only cuts and
"I heard the whistle just as it hit
us," Line told reporters brokenly.
"I didn't see the train until I
heard the bell of the engine as I
started over the track."
The terrific crash which resulted
when the engine .struck the bus
about ten feet from the rear end
awakened scores of people living
Many rushed to the scene, carrying
lanterns and flashlights, searching
for the mangled bodies strewn
along the tracks.
Rescuers Work in Rain
All rescue squads in the county
were called out as the search was
carried on in a drizzling rain.
Two bodies -were said to have been
carried on the engine for 500 yards.
The teacher made the following
"I felt myself spinning around
and I was thrown against the
driver, who was in turn wedged
against the steering wheel.
"The bus was knocked around
against a high bank beside the
track and facing in the direction
from which it had come.
"I heard screams and moans and
"I regained command of myself.
I had been stunned when my head
hit the top of the bus."
Those known to have been on the
bus, in addition to the driver and
teacher, included Paul McElray,
Carl Brindle, Norris Downs, James
Flurie, Phoebe Kelley, Margaret
Kress, Lois Winters, Bertha Castle,
Pearl Emerson, Claude Myers,
Margaret Eva Zimmerman, Elva
Harsh, Leroy Kenelle, Mary Lou
Downs, Virginia Myers, Jane Stally,
Wilma Nervy, Helen Bloyer,
Dwight Fearnow, Blanche Long,
Mary Teach, Glenn Anderson, Malcolm
Collier, Billy Collier, Duward
Hose and Albert Leaf.
The Rev. Cecil J. McNeal of
Catholic University, Washington,
relieving a priest at Rockville, told
news men the accident happened
under his casement window.
He. rushed out and administered
last rites to the dying.
April 12, 1935 edition of The New York Times