Archbold, OH Train Crushes Sleigh, Jan 1948
PARENTS ABSOLVE DRIVER IN SLED TRAGEDY.
10 CHILDREN DIE AT OHIO RAIL CROSSING.
Archbold, Jan. 5. -- (UP) -- The parents of 10 children killed when a passenger train crashed into a gay sleigh party said today they didn't blame the driver who admitted he "just froze stiff"
at sight of the onrushing train.
"It was just an accident," said Lawrence Grieser, father of four of the dead children. "We don't blame him."
Thirteen laughing, shouting children -- none older than 13 -- were riding the low-slung, farm utility sleigh on a Sunday afternoon outing in a light snowstorm when the accident occurred at a railroad crossing one mile east of here. Only three survived.
The National Safety Council in Chicago said it was
"one of the worst highway accident death tolls on record."
JESSE WYSE, driver of the tractor hauling the sleigh, whose own son and daughter survived, said he was halfway across the tracks when he saw the train bearing down.
"I just froze stiff," WYSE said. WYSE was unhurt in the accident, but he was under a doctor's care for shock.
D. O. SHERER, of Toledo, engineer of the train --
the New York Central's Chicagoan -- said he was traveling 80 miles an hour and had no chance to come to a stop.
The train traveled one mile beyond the crossing before the emergency brakes brought it to a halt.
The body of one little girl was pinned on the front of the train, beneath the boiler.
WYSE said he had promised to take the children on the ride Saturday, but had put it off. Yesterday his son, JOHN, 13, suggested the outing again and offered to drive the tractor.
"I told JOHN he was too young and said I'd take them myself," WYSE said.
WYSE'S son was sitting on the back of the sled and jumped off safely when the train hit. The two injured girls, SHIRLEY GRIESER, 9, and JANICE WYSE, 7, were thrown off the front of the sleigh; they were reported in good condition at Detwiler Hospital in Wausson where they were taken.
The dead were:
JEAN PEARL OSBORNE, 12, and her sister,
MARJORIE, 10, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Lyle Osborne.
GAYLE and CHARLOTTE GRIESER, 12-year-old twins, PATRICIA, 8, and SHARON, 6, all children of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Grieser.
DAWN GRIESER, 13, MARLIN, 11, ARLENE, 10,
and JANICE, 4, children of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond
Railroad officials said a freight train passed the unguarded crossing shortly before the accident occurred and it was believed WYSE may have waited for it to pass before he started across the tracks. The passenger train whistle might have been confused with that of the freight, it was believed.
SHERER, the train engineer, said, "I saw that tractor with its sleigh attached more than a quarter of a mile ahead of us and I thought it would stop before that grade crossing."
"But when I saw it was not slowing down, I pulled our warning whistle and the emergency brakes at the same time. But there wasn't any use."
"We were going at a clip of 80 miles per hour and we had no chance to come to a stop."
The accident occurred about 2:30 p.m. The train continued on to Chicago, arriving one hour and 34 minutes late, its locomotive still carrying traces of the accident -- pieces of straw, splinters of wood, and bits of flesh.
John Pirozzi, 25, of Brooklyn, N.Y., a passenger on the train, compared the gruesome scene to one of his war experiences:
"It reminded me of a night during the war when we picked up 20 guys from the water after the explosion of an LST. All of the fellows were dead,
but these were kids in this case and it got me a little more."
Lima News Ohio 1948-01-05