New Buffalo, MI Auto And Train Crash, Aug 1956




Family week at a New Buffalo YWCA camp ended in death Sunday for a Chicago family of four and a passenger with them when their car was hit by a high-speed New York Central passenger train.
The dead were:
PETER LEVINE, 49, of 6712 Newgard Street, Chicago; a skull fracture and other injuries.
MRS. MOLLIE LEVINE, 40-45, same address; skull fracture, multiple fracture of the jaw and a crushed chest.
MISS PAULA LEVINE, 19, same address; broken neck and multiple fractures.
NORMAN LEVINE, 14, same address; skull fracture, punctured right side and other injuries.
DAVID STRINEL, 12, 1109 Lunt Avenue; fractured skull, fractured forearm and femur.
The elder LEVINE died shortly after being admitted to Doctor's Hospital in Michigan City, the others were killed instantly.
The fatal crash, the worst of the year in Berrien county, raised county's 1956 traffic death list to 23.
The Levine family and its guest, 12-year-old DAVID .STRINEL, had just finished spending a week at the Forrest Beach YWCA camp, one mile south of New Buffalo.
They were crossing the NYC tracks on the Forrest Beach private road at 4:10 p.m. when smashed by the passenger train. The crossing is about 20 yards west on U.S. 12.
Engineer George Tickfer of Niles reportedly told New Buffalo state police that his train was traveling about 80 miles an hour along the straightaway.
There are no automatic signals at the crossing.
He said he saw the Levine car, moving about five or six miles-an-hour, as it emerged from the wooded area along the private road.
The engineer said he blew the train whistle, although the private road is not a whistle crossing. The car, however, kept coming until it reached the railroad track where it stopped directly in the path of the train, Tickfer told police.
Police think Levine was looking at southbound traffic from the tracks which are five feet above the highway level and never saw the eastbound train.
Broken tennis rackets, phonograph records and clothing items were strewn for two-tenths of a mile along the railroad tracks.
The Levine car, a 1955 Buick, was smashed into three pieces. The engine was found 300 feet from the point of impact, police estimated.
Levine operated a small manufacturing concern with his brother in Chicago, YWCA camp officials said.
The bodies were taken to the Smith Funeral Home in New Buffalo.

News-Palladium Benton Harbor Michigan 1956-08-20