Coulter, OH Train Wreck, Dec 1946
PVT. KENNETH COMPTON, 17, of Superior, Wis., a passenger on the Pittsburgh-to-Chicago train, gave this description:
"I had just lit up a cigaret[sic] when I felt the brakes slam on, I yelled 'hit the floor' and dropped into the aisle. There was a terrific crash and glass and steel flew everywhere, I was thrown outside the car somehow and landed under the wreck on the next track."
"I ran back inside, hollering for my pals. I didn't find them and came here on the first ambulance."
Private COMPTON, who escaped injury, told his story in the Mansfield General Hospital, where some of the injured were placed in a student lecture room after regular facilities were filled up. He was enroute home on furlough from Fort Dix.
The accident was caused by the breaking of an air hose on an eastbound freight train, Sheriff Robinson said he was informed by a Pennsylvania Railroad representative.
"The first freight train then stopped," he related. "Then another eastbound freight train rammed into it and both locomotives overturned."
"Just then the westbound passenger train came along and ploughed into the two wrecked freights."
Two locomotives pulling the passenger train overturned along with the two coaches. At least three coaches on the rear remained on the tracks, their lights still burning.
PVT. ROBERT RADTKE, 18, of Hustisford, Wis., said he was asleep in the second car behind the double-header train.
"I fell off the seat and awakened with duffel bags flying all around," he related. "I couldn't see very well because of steam but I figured something awful must have happened."
"I saw a hole in the side of the car and jumped out."
RADTKE said he did not notice anyone injured in his car. He said many of the passengers piled out through windows.
Coroner D. C. Lavender said he saw seven dead -- four soldiers and three others he believed to be trainmen.
An early arrival at the scene said he saw many persons trapped in the wreckage, "some apparently badly hurt."
Another observer said some of the passengers fought with each other in their efforts to get out of the cars.
The Red Cross mobilized immediately and soon was dispensing coffee, doughnuts and other food.
The Pennsylvania Railroad announced at Pittsburgh the dead crewmen were:
E. H. PATTERSON, Canton, O., engineman on the second engine of the "Golden Triangle."
R. E. KEITH, Toledo, O., fireman on the second freight train.
F. J. HUGHES, Sandusky, O., front brakeman on second freight train.
C. R. REED, of Louisville, O., fireman on the second engine of the "Golden Triangle," was critically hurt.
Regarding identification of the soldiers killed, the railroad spokesman commented that the Army customarily withholds the names of casualties pending notification of kin.
Syracuse Herald-Journal New York 1946-12-13
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