Onley, VA Train Wreck, Nov 1929


Twenty-Five Injured, Some Fatally on a Norfolk-New York Train – Officials Say Wreck Was Caused By Broken Rail Which Engine and Two Coaches Passed Over Safely – Rear Coach Also Stays on Track

ONLEY, Va., Dec. 1 (AP) – Speeding northward over the Pennsylvania railroad here last night, seven coaches of a Norfolk-New York train filled with excursionists left the rails, killing nine persons and injuring approximately 25 others, two probably fatally. Two coaches turned over and more than 400 passengers on the train were thrown into confusion as the coaches smashed against the first two to leave the rails and stopped after tearing up a large section of the track.

The train said to have been traveling about 50 miles an hour, was seen by BEN PARKS, resident of Onley to sway and rock violently just before it came to an abrupt halt in the space of some 200 yards. PARKS in describing the track to commonwealth attorney J. F. WALTER, said that he saw the cars reeling and then two of them “gradually” turned and fell to their sides.

“It all happened so quickly and so unexpectedly,” he said, “that I hardly realized what had happened before I heard the crash and the screaming.”

PARKS said he was standing about 150 yards from the train when the wreck occurred. The lights, he said, never went out.

For a moment, MR. PARKS said, he could hardly realize than anything was wrong. Then he saw that the train had come to a halt and through the icy air of the morning he heard the screams of passengers. The noise of the crash itself, he said, was not unusually loud.

The train came to a stop within a comparatively short distance the rear coach being halted approximately at the point where the rails were torn up. None of the cars became uncoupled. There were four coaches in front of the overturned two, and three behind them.

Doctors from the throughout the section were called to the scene to render first aid, while many of the injured were carried to the hospital in Nassawadox, Va. Those who were only slightly injured and the remaining passengers continued north on another train.

Wrecking crews were rapidly clearing up the tracks this afternoon.
RANDOLPH B. COOKE, general agent for the Pennsylvania railroad at Norfolk, said the only[sic] wreck was the first in 45 years in which a passenger had been killed on the New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk division of the railroad.

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