Newark Bay, NJ Commuter Train Wreck, Sept 1958

Estimates of the trains speed varied. Under normal circumstances, with all signals in its favor, it was limited to 45 m. p. h. A towerman said it hit the draw at about 30 m. p. h. Passengers aboard estimated its speed at up to 60 m. p. h.
Even then, but for a caprice of timing, the train might have escaped its watery plunge. The huge concrete weights of the drawbridge normally block the tracks when the bridge is wide open. But they had started to rise as the bridge was being lowered back into alignment with the trestle. Through this gap, the train plunged.

Syracuse Herald Journal New York 1958-09-16


Engineer in Tragedy Had Defective Heart

BAYONNE, N. J. (AP) - An autopsy shows that heart disease contributed to the death of the engineer on the Jersey Central train that plunged into Newark Bay.
Another finding indicates that the trains brakes were not applied until it was within 300 feet of the open drawbridge.
The third coach of the train was recovered from the water today. Bodies of three men and a woman were taken from the coach. Divers found two other bodies floating nearby.
Recovery of the six bodies brought the death toll in Monday's disaster to 27. Another 19 persons, including the trains fireman, brakeman and conductor, are missing and presumed dead.
The New York Journal-American reported that a search was being made for a super-secret guided missile missile mechanism believed lost when an Army courier died in the wreck.
The newspaper said the missing device was reported to be a tiny transistor radio capable of beaming signals from a baby moon in outer space, and that it probably was imbedded in silt on the bottom of the bay.
A briefcase carried by the courier was recovered by an Army intelligence office, it was said, but he failed to find the mechanism.
The newspaper said the device and material in a briefcase were being taken to New York from Ft. Monmouth, N. J.
The newspaper said the body of the courier was recovered, but that his name was being withheld.
Bayonne Police Chief CORNELIUS J. CARROLL said both Army men and FBI agents had been inspecting belongings of the wreck victims and had pair particular attention to those in a briefcase carried by a JOHN McCLOSKEY.
McCLOSKEY earlier had been identified as one of the wreck victims, and his address was listed as Union Beach, N. J., which is not far from Ft. Monmouth.
At Ft. Monmouth, a public relations spokesman said he had heard nothing regarding the matter.
The two engines of the train still were on the bottom of the bay.
An autopsy was performed yesterday on the body of the engineer, LLOYD WILBURN, 63, of Red Bank.
DR. CHESTER R. RYDWIN, who performed the autopsy, listed the contributory causes of death as "hypertensive heart disease, pulmonary edema and congestion of the lungs."
A hypertensive heart condition is a weakened heart caused by high blood pressure. Pulmonary edema is congestion caused by fluid in the lungs which can result from a heart condition or drowning.
DR. FRANCIS BOYLE, assistant Hudson County medical examiner, said the edema did not result from drowning in WILBURN'S case.
BOYLE was asked directly if WILBURN suffered a heart attack.
"Just about that," he replied.
New Jersey Public Utility Commissioner RALPH L. FUSCO and Jersey Central President EARL T. MOORE, examined the wreck scene.
The train passed three signal lights warning of the open drawbridge.
A spokesman for the Jersey Central said its trains with two men in the cab are not equipped with a "dead man's control," a device that halts an engine immediately if the engineer releases his grip on the controls.

Syracuse Herald Journal New York 1958-09-17