Park City, MT Trains Collide In Snowstorm, Sep 1908





(Special Dispatch to the Standard.)
Billings, Sept. 25. -- Coming together so quickly that there was barely time for the engine crews to jump in an effort to save their lives, train No. 16 crashed into an extra freight at Young's siding, four miles from Park City, shortly after 8 o'clock this morning, killing 18 passengers outright and causing injuries to many others. R. E. VICKERS of Virginia City, mangled so that he suffered intense agony, calmly directed the rescuers how to assist him from the wreck, and succumbed later to his injuries.
Some of those who are being cared for in Billings tonight cannot recover. Among the more seriously hurt are SAMUEL SLOMOWITZ of this city, BEN WESTBURY and ANTONE REWEISZ of Helena.
Three of the bodies have not been identified. They are believed to have been members of a party of miners who left Anaconda yesterday on their way to Kirby, Wyo.
All of the dead were riding in the smoking car, which was the third car of the train. Every seat was occupied and so densely crowded was the train that the fact that more were not killed seemed little less than miraculous.
There is only one explanation given for the collision. Orders were given for the passenger train to pass the freight at Young's siding. Supposing that the freight had made the siding all right, Engineer BIESINGER was letting his train down the grade at a speed of 30 or more miles an hour.
Snowstorm Raging.
At the time a heavy snowstorm was raging, and it had delayed the freight so that Engineer SMITH and Conductor HICKEY saw that they were on the time of the passenger train. A flagman was sent ahead just as the extra reached the siding. He had gone but a short distance when he saw the train bearing down on him.
Frantically the flagman waved his signal at Engineer BIESINGER. It was not seen in time. The heavily loaded passenger was almost upon the freight that stood in its path when BIESINGER saw the danger.
There was a scream of grinding brakes as the engineer jammed back the throttle and threw on the air brakes. Shouting a warning to his fireman, ORA BABCOCK, BIESINGER jumped. BABCOCK went through the window on the other side of the cab, his foot caught the sill and he plunged headlong to the tracks, crushing his skull and causing instant death.
The heavy train plowed along. In the coaches passengers were reaching their feet in alarm at the sudden jamming on of the brakes, when the two came together.
The crash of the impact was heard a mile away. The engines rolled over on their sides and scalding steam rose from the tangled mass of twisted metal they quickly became. The force of the shock threw the mail car against the baggage car, and the latter telescoped the frail smoker, in which there were 40 men. There all the appalling havoc was wrought.
Cries Of Agony.
In the day coach following, the Pullmans and the dining car there was little damage done. Passengers were thrown from their feet and bruised. Women and children screamed in fright and men, recovering their senses, leaped from the platform and stood for the moment horrified at the sight which met their eyes and the cries of agony which reached their ears.
The three forward cars were splintered and twisted out of all semblance to passenger cars. Those less seriously hurt who were not pinned down by the broken timbers were crawling from the wreck, bleeding and dazed. From every aperture there reached forth a hand whose fingers twisted a spasmodic appeal for help: faces showed here and there, the eyes mutely evincing the agony that was being endured.
Passengers and train crews recovered from the shock and sprang to the rescue. This town was reached by wire and a relief train with doctors and nurses was hurriedly prepared and sent to the scene. By the time they arrived the injured had been removed from the wreck and some of the bodies had been taken from underneath the smoker. It was hours before the last corpse was taken from the wreck, and even then it was thought that another body would be found. The track remained blocked until nearly midnight.
Work Of Rescue Commenced By Volunteers And Trainmen.
As quickly as possible the work of relief was carried on. From the nearest houses and train sheds axes and jacks were secured, and with these the wreckage was pried apart. As form after form, mangled beyond recognition, was taken out, the rescuers grew white and faint, but kept doggedly at their task.
In 18 cases life had been instantly crushed out, and identification in most of these was made by means of the clothing or by papers found in the pockets. There were no women among the victims, although one had a narrow escape.
Because of the crowded condition of the train, MRS. ROBERT ANDERSON of Hardin had been sitting with her husband in the smoking car. A few minutes before the crash came she told her husband that she thought she would go to the wash room and remove the stains of travel before they went to breakfast. ANDERSON remained in the smoker.
MRS. ANDERSON had hardly reached the next car when she was thrown from her feet, and when she picked herself up, dazed, she leaped from the car. Instantly she recognized that her husband was not among those who had escaped, and she rushed from group to group, imploring them to look for her husband.
His body was finally brought out. MRS. ANDERSON threw herself on the mangled form and sobbed out her grief. It required several men to drag her away.
Still another woman, crazed with grief, came to the rescuers and asked eagerly for her husband. When Colonel HODGESON'S body was discovered, MRS. HODGSON knelt beside the form and remained there until the relief train arrived.
Colonel HODGSON and his wife were on their way from Utah to visit their daughter in Billings. The colonel had just gone inito the smoker and secured a seat when the wreck occurred.
One of the worst mangled bodies was that of CHARLES E. JOHNSON, district passenger agent of the Nickel Plate road, who lived in Denver. It was only by means of papers in his pocket that the body was identified.
Among the passengers on the wrecked train was DR. C. C. FLETCHER of North Yakima, Wash. DR. FLETCHER hurried from the Pullman and, throwing off his coat, busied himself tying up wounds with such apologies for surgical applicances as could be secured at the scene.
Quick work was made by the relief train in getting to the scene. DR. WATKINS and his assistant took charge, with a number of hurses, and at Park City they were joined by several other physicians. Dead and injured were taken aboard the relief train and rushed to this city, where the former were taken to undertaking rooms and the latter rushed to the hospital. It was expected that two or three deaths would occur during the night.
Engineer BIESINGER said that at the time of the accident he was running at the rate of 30 miles an hour and keeping close watch ahead because of the blinding snowstorm. He failed to see the flagman sent out from the freight and did not notice the danger until his train was upon the engine of the freight. Then he shut off steam, threw on the emergency brakes and shouted to Fireman BABCOCK as he jumped. The engineer was only slightly bruised.
It is believed that BABCOCK leaped head foremost from the cab and that his foot caught the sill. His body was discovered lying on the tracks in the rear of the train, with his skull crushed. He had evidently been instantly killed. His home was in this city.
The List Of Dead.
BABCOCK, ORA, fireman, Billings, Mont.
BARNES, C. H., Seattle, Wash.
CHEMRAN, S. L., Laurel, Mont.
DYMACK, E. L., Denver, Colo.
GAMBLE, H. C., Humeston, Iowa.
HODGSON, COL. H., Southern Utah.
HOLLOWAY, MILO, brakeman, Billings, Mont.
JOHNSON, CHARLES E., district passenger agent Nickel Plate road, Denver, Colo.
KONDICH, JOHN, East Park street, Anaconda, Mont.
MARCHINGTON, SAMUEL T., Chico Springs, Mont.
PANTOVICH, GEORGE, East Park street, Anaconda, Mont.
PAWLAS, JOHN, Billings, Mont.
RYAN, JOHN E., Butte, Mont.
STEWART, LOREN A., Dean, Mont.
VICKERS, R. E., Virginia City, Mont.
THREE UNIDENTIFIED MINERS, on their way from Anaconda, Mont., to Kirby, Wyo.
The Seriously Injured.
ANDERSON, MRS. ROBERT, Hardin, Mont.; head cut.
BURKE, JOHN, Boston, Mass.; leg broken, back injured.
CORDEA, L. E., Flathead Indian mission; head cut, badly bruised.
CORDEA, SUSANNE, Flathead Indian mission; back injured.
CORDEA, JOHN, Flathead Indian mission; head cut.
DYER, FLETCHER, Mt. Carmel, Ill.; injured internally, arm broken.
FIGARI, JOHN, Coldwater.
REWCIZS, ANTONE, Helena, Mont.; internally injured, both arms broken, head cut. May die.
SIDNEY, BENJAMIN, Pasco, Wash.; leg broken.
SLOMOWITZ, SAMUEL, Billings, Mont.; injured internally, both legs broken (Died the next day.)
WAGNER, JOHN, Coleman, Alberta; leg broken, internal injuries.
WESTBURY, BEN S., address unknown; injured internally, both legs broken. May die.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY, arm broken, internally hurt.

The Anaconda Standard Montana 1908-09-26