Deveres Station, CA Runaway Freight Cars Crash into Train, Sept 1907


Long String of Freight Cars Dash Down Steep Grade on Santa Fe in California.

San Bernardino, Cal. Sept 21. -- In a daylight collision on the Cajon grade of the Santa Fe at 4:30 p.m. o'clock this morning, five men were killed and one fatally injured.  While switching at Devere's station, on the steep grade, the cars of a long freight train got away and rushed down to the junction of the switch, where a light engine and the freight engine was standing. In the crash which followed, Engineer H. K. Stratton of this city was instantly killed, Brakeman Gray and Bryant were pinioned beneath ton of debris, and, though still alive but perhaps fatally injured, were burned to death in the wreckage which immediately caught fire and spread with such swiftness that rescue was impossible.  Two tramps were also caught in the wreck and were unable to escape before the first caught them. Fireman Thresher suffered a fractured skull and will probably die.  The remains of Stratton were brought to this city this morning.  All overland trains from the east are delayed at the scene of the wreck, which is nine miles east of this city.

Air Brakes Failed.

Later reports showed that the failure of the air brakes of the freight train to hold was responsible for the accident.  The collision was between a westbound freight and a light engine which had a short time before helped the long freight up the long climb to the summit form the desert side of the mountains.  At the summit this engine was uncoupled from the rear and preceded the freight down the mountain. The freight stated shortly afterward and had gone but a short distance when the air brakes refused to hold, and the efforts of the brakemen with the hand brakes were futile.

The train attained great velocity and at the Devere station, nine miles from the city, overtook the light engine.  The freight engine tore off the tender of the light locomotive and sent it far down the track, with the engineer unhurt in the seat.  The big engine then hurled itself into the sand between the main and sidetracks, crushing Engineer Stratton to death.

Thirty-four carloads of merchandise were burned.  The financial loss to the railroad company is estimated at $75,000.

The Salt Lake Herald, Salt Lake City, UT 22 Sept 1907