St. Paul, MN Train - Truck Collision, July 1960



St. Paul, Minn. (AP) -- A 17-unit Milwaukee Road passenger train, hurtling along at 73 m.p.h. slammed into a trailer-truck Monday. Dozens of passengers on the afternoon Hiawatha en route to Chicago suffered minor injuries; 10 were hospitalized overnight.
The truck driver, ROBERT KENSLER, 31, St. Paul, escaped injury as the train sheared off the trailer stacked high with aluminum girders for a nearby construction project.
The lead deisel engine and seven cars flipped over and others stacked up in crazy patterns.
Among the passengers was MAHALIA JACKSON, Negro woman singer. She and two companions, riding in a drawing room at the rear of the train, were not hurt as the car remained upright.
Fireman NORMAN SCHNELL, 37, Hastings, Minn., said the train crew looked on almost in disbelief as the truck approached the crossing in suburban St. Paul Park at a leisurely pace.
"It amazed us," said the hospitalized SCHNELL. "The guy was going so slow we were sure he would stop. But he didn't."
KENSLER said he didn't see the train when he started across. He said he had a "feeling of death" when he suddenly saw it almost on top of him.
The first five cars of the train were empty. They were being taken to Wisconsin Dells, to pick up some 300 youngsters attending a camp for a return trip to Minnesota.
Four Wisconsin residents were injured in the derailment. They were MR. and MRS. JOHN HANSON of Poynette and MR. and MRS. FRANK SZARMACH of Milwaukee.
"It was absolutely the most terrifying experience I've ever had," MRS. SZARMACH siad. "A person thinks that he only reads about accidents like this."
"The car we were riding in was in about the middle of the train. Everything was going smoothly when all of a sudden the car began to sway forward and backward just like we were going over a bump."
"Then it went sideways and went along for a while before it stopped, tilted on its side."
"My husband and I were on the high side of the car when it went on its side. He was thrown out first against the opposite seat and I would have really been injured but he tried to break my fall as we fell. It was like going through space."
"The rescuers came in really fast. We were able to get out of doors, although they broke the windows to take some of the luggage out."

Capital Times Madison Wisconsin 1960-07-19