Mattoon, IL Train And Automobile Collision, May 1959


Mattoon, Ill. (AP) -- Seven young people who had just left a high school dance were killed early today, and one was critically injured in a grade crossing collision with an Illinois Central passenger train.
The 20-car "Louisiane," New Orleans bound from Chicago, carried the auto a quarter of a mile.
The dead were:
LORAINE PFEIFFER, 17, and her 18-year-old brother, LISLE, all of Shelbyville, Illinois.
JERRY HAYES, 19, of Woodlawn, Illinois.
MISS THOMAS died in Mattoon Memorial Hospital several hours after the crash. The sole survivor was IVAN MOON, 22, brother of IRENE. HAYES and MOON were University of Illinois students.
An Illinois Central spokesman said the passenger train normally sped 70 to 75 m.p.h. through the Mattoon area of east central Illinois.
The collision occurred at a dirt road crossing two miles north of Mattoon. The tracks run adjacent to U.S. 45 where police said the students, returning from the Shelbyville High prom, had turned off into the dirt road.

Steubenville Herald Star Ohio 1959-05-16


Still Mourning 55 Years Later

My Brother Jerry Hays was one of the 7 killed in this horrific accident. I was only 11 years old when he was killed & his death devastated our family. Bob & I are the surviving brothers of Jerry & sadly Mom, Dad & our brothers Bill & Duane & our sister Beverly have since passed away. Jerry was a Freshman at University of Ill & was a fraternity brother of Lisle Pfeiffer. Jerry escorted Lisle's sister Loraine to the High School prom & after the prom all 8 left in Ivan Moon's 1955 Chevy. Why they chose that route & ended up being struck by an Illinois Central Railroad passenger train only God knows. No one in our family blamed Ivan in any way. During that era there were no warning lights & the train was traveling at a high rate of speed. I still wonder if Ivan is still living today or even remembers any details from his near fatal injuries. He also suffered the loss of his sister Irene in this accident. It will always be etched into my mind until the day that I die when my younger sister Beverly woke me up crying & telling me that Jerry had been killed & hearing my Mom crying uncontrollably. I would love to hear from any family members of their loved ones killed in this accident. My email is lghays752@aol.com.

Remembering this accident

My sister and I remembered this accident but Had not found information about it again until today. We both remember there was one survivor. I hope Ivan Moon had a good life. He and these teens were not forgotten by us.

It has haunted me

I read an article about this accident in 1960, when I was 15 years old. It still brings me to tears. I have often thought of Ivan Moon and wondered if he ever recovered. I told my daughter and her friends about it, and told my boss about it yesterday, because it is prom week at her daughter's school. It haunts me to think of those kids having a good time and really doing no wrong.