Rockville Center Long Island, NY Train - Auto Wreck, Oct 1909


They Are Hurled Into the Telegraph Wires Overhead and a Third Seriously Injured.


One Man, Fearful That Some Accident Was Impending, Got Out and Went Home.

Special to The New York Times.

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, L. I., Oct. 31.----Robert Welsh of 5 Hart Street, Brooklyn, a real estate broker, and Dr. William G. Terwilliger of 618 Hancock Street, Brooklyn, were killed here this afternoon when a south-bound train crashed into their automobile runabout at the crossing at Wreck Lead, and the third of their party, Gilbert Rhoads, a medical student , was so injured that the surgeons at St. Mary's Hospital, Jamaica, fear he will die.

Dr. Terwilliger, who lived with his two little children, his wife, and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Francis, and Mr. Welsh, who is also married, were great friends. Always on Sunday afternoons Mr. Welsh took the doctor out in his runabout for a long ride.

Mr. Welsh, who belongs to the real estate firm of Ross & Welsh of 189 Montague Street, Brooklyn, intended to take with him yesterday besides the doctor his brother-in-law, Sumner Jones, for the runabout had room for just three persons, with its trundle behind. He left his house with Mr. Jones, but had gone only three blocks when the latter said he felt that something was going to happen, and tried to dissuade the others from going. When he failed he got out of the car and went home.

This made room for one more, and so Gilbert Rhoades, Dr. Terwilliger's nephew, who lives with him, took the empty seat. They made a fast run out to Long Beach, and then headed for home. The road they took forms an acute angle with the Long Island Railroad at Wreck Lead, and any person standing at the apex of that angle can see for at least three miles along both road and railway.

The crew and passengers of the south-bound train, making fast time, watched the string of automobiles, spinning along the road in almost the same direction. The first of theses automobiles was a runabout with three men in it, one on the trundle behind. It was a good bit ahead of the train and running fast, but the train gradually gained on it.

Presently the runabout came to a rather sudden curve in the road toward the railway, so that both train and car were now plainly bearing down on the same point. The engineer blew his whistle, and the passengers watched anxiously for the car to slow down. It did not halt in the least.

The engineer blew his whistle again several times. It did not seem possible that those in the automobile could help seeing the train. Yet it ran on rapidly. Indeed, at a third signal from the train, the runabout seemed to put on more speed. The conductor of the train, though anxious, gave no signal to stop. A moment later train and runabout were hidden from each other by barns in the angle between road and track.

That was for only a second; the next, both train and car, with speed unabated, rushed down on the point of the angle. The three men in the car stood up as if about to jump. They had no time, for right in the centre of the car crashed the engine, tossing it with its three occupants high into the air, and as the car, being and twisted and broken, dropped to one side of the track, the bodies of two of the man fell on the telegraph wires, and hung there suspended for a moment, till the wires breaking released them. The third man lay mangled and unconscious to one side of the road.

The train was quickly stopped and backed down to the crossing again. Crew and passengers ran to the battered car and the three men. It was plain to any one that two were quite dead, for their skulls were crushed in. Welch had in his pocket an identification card; in the clothes of the other was found a check on the Franklin Trust Company for $25, made out to Dr. William G. Terwilliger. As for the third, there was nothing to show who he was, and a call was sent in for Dr. Arthur B. Jaques of Lynbrook, the nearest town.

He came as fast as his automobile could bring him, and found that the young man was suffering from grave internal injuries. He could do little for him there, and when the next train to Jamaica passed Dr. Jaques put him aboard and took him to St. Mary's Hospital. There he later recovered consciousness enough to give his name as Gilbert Rhoades of Milton, N. Y. The two bodies were left at the roadside under blankets until an undertaker got there and took them away.

The first news of the accident in Brooklyn came in a telephone call to Mrs. Terwilliger's house. Mrs. Francis, Dr. Terwilliger's mother-in-law, went to the 'phone, and a voice of a man who said he was an official of the railroad come over it:

"Dr. Terwilliger is seriously hurt." it said. Mrs. Francis became hysterical and dropped to the floor, and Mrs. Terwilliger, finally getting the news from her, became hysterical, too. Their cries brought in several neighbors, and they called in Dr. Rose, the family physician.

The New York Times, New York, NY 1 Nov 1909