Otisville, NY Train Wreck, Sept 1858
We ran back with great apprehension, and our worst fears were more than realized. The last two cars had been hurled down an embankment forty feet, and were completely demolished. The groans and screams of the injured broke fearfully upon our ears in the stillness of the evening. They were under the wreck, and strewed around the scene of the disaster in awful confusion. The moon was shining feebly, and by its light and that of a large fire which was soon kindled, the wreck of the cars was removed, and all that were living were rescued. Three hours were spent in getting the suffering from beneath the ruins of the cars and up the embankment, when, with seven dead and about forty more or less seriously injured, the melancholy train moved on to this place. An engine had been previously sent to Port Jervis, which returned to the scene of the disaster with surgeons and other aid. All the injured were taken to the two hotels â€“ the Delaware and the Fowler House â€“ and to-day they are generally doing well.
Among the injured are Professor L. PEET, vice-principal of the New York Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, his wife and child, his wife's sister, and several deaf mutes. MRS. POST and MISS BARRY, a deaf mute, were quite seriously injured, but they are now doing well, and are out of all danger. One of the most heart-rending incidents connected with this melancholy occurrence was the screaming of the deaf mutes, which could be heard at a long distance, and which greatly aggravated the horror of the scene.
To detail its incidents would be as impossible as to rehearse a horrible dream. When I reached the car I heard a familiar voice, and making my way toward it, stopped in the darkness upon a dead man. I soon reached Prof. PEET, and found him supporting his wife's head. Both were ignorant of what had become of their babe, or of any other member of their party of ten. I heard a child's voice on the other side of the car, and rushing around toward it, asked one who had taken it up whose child it was. The mother frantically exclaimed, â€œIt is my child,â€ and pressed it to her heart as if afraid I was about to claim it. I soon found the child of my friend, int eh arms of a person who was carrying it up the embankment. The babe was only slightly injured. It was asleep on the seat when the cars were thrown off the track, and no one could tell where it was found. One deaf mute was reported to be dead, and I went at the request of a gentlemen to identify him, but he revived and is doing well.
During all the long hours that we were tolling to get the sufferers from under the ruins, and up the embankment to the cars, parents were calling frantically for their children and children for their parents. One mother had her dead child brought to her, another received her living babe with ecstatic joy. Another beautiful young mother uninjured, I saw, by the light of a lamp, holding tenderly in her arms the mangled form of what was just before a beautiful child. One gentleman who was with me, who had labored without faltering from the first, gave way at this sight and was overcome. He had helped to carry the dead and wounded up the embankment, but this was too much for the strong heart of a man to endure.
Directly in front of the seat which I had occupied sat a refined and delicate young lady, who I afterward learned, was on a trip to the Falls. As the helpless but still breathing form of the only injured colored person was brought up the embankment, she went to her side, bathed her head and fanned her brow, and spoke words of encouragement and sympathy to her until her ear became insensible. She died in our car soon after we left the scene of the disaster.
The uninjured passengers manifested the utmost readiness to relieve the distressed, and to do everything in their power for their comfort. Little comfort could be afforded them until we reached this place, where the hotels were thrown open, at which the citizens of that place were already assembled. All night long they had been devoted to the care of the sufferers, and through their attentions nearly all are now very comfortable. It is hoped all will recover, through the blessing of a kind Providence.
The Philadelphia Press Pennsylvania 1858-07-19