Colfax, CA Passenger Train Derails, Nov 1944
U.S. TROOPS GUARD S.P. WRECKAGE FROM LOOTERS.
EIGHT OF NINE DEAD IDENTIFIED; F.B.I. FINDS NO EVIDENCE OF SABOTAGE.
Soldiers armed with rifles today patrolled the area three miles west of Colfax, in Placer County, while emergency crews cleaned up the wreckage of the Southern Pacific 'Challenger,' crack overland train that was derailed yesterday, killing at least nine persons and injuring at least 94 others.
Only one of the dead, a woman about 23 years of age, remained unidentified at the morgue in Colfax today as F.B.I., railroad and Interstate Commerce Commission officials probed the cause of the wreck.
The eight other dead were identified last night as:
F. G. GRAHAM, 45, of Roseville, the engineer.
SIDNEY E. BUNCE, of Eureka, special investigator for the Humboldt County District Attorney's office.
MRS. LAURA BENBOW, about 60, San Bruno.
MRS. ANNA DOROTHY ERNSTER, 28, Clinton, Iowa.
Sgt. GORDON CARLSEN PRESIDIO of San Francisco.
GOLDIE MAE POWELL, W.A.V.E. en route from a New York training center to the 12th Naval District headquarters.
PAUL L. DORSEY, of Des Moines, Ia., coxswain, stationed at Camp Parks.
EDWARD J. AWAD, of Albany, N.Y., specialist first class.
Preliminary examination of the wrecked locomotive, cars and roadbed produced no evidence of sabotage, F.B.I. agents on the scene announced, and the railroad was looking into the possibility that recent heavy rains had weakened the right of way around the rails.
MIKE HURLEY, of Roseville, fireman on the train, was riding in the cab with Engineer GRAHAM. He felt the locomotive rolling off the tracks and jumped, breaking his arm. HURLEY could not give an explanation for the accident.
The Army came in to guard the wreckage and piles of torn baggage after there were reports of widespread looting. Some persons lost as much as $1000 and all their personal effects in the few minutes after nine cars and the locomotive of the crack train slid off the rails and overturned.
Survivors of the 800 passengers on the train credited service personnel with helping injured men and women from the wreckage and setting up the first medical station to care for them.
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