Norristown, PA Trolley Hits Automobile, Aug 1915



A signal bell that was said today to have been out of order is believed to have been responsible for the death of three women and a man and the injury of another woman, when a two-car express trolley train of the Lehigh Valley Transit Company hit a touring car last night, five miles north of Norristown, at the Yost Road crossing.
The dead:
FRANK MURPHY, 32 years old.
MISS BLANCHE MURPHY, his sister, 28 years old.
MISS CLARA MURPHY, a sister, 20 years old.
MISS LENA BITZNER, 17 years old, of Doylestown.
The injured woman is MRS. MAY MURPHY, 52 years old, mother of FRANK, BLANCHE and CLARA MURPHY. She was hurried to Charity Hospital, Norristown, after being taken from under the first of the two trolley cars. Physicians found that she was injured internally and her skull is fractured. An operation will be performed to relieve pressure. She was slightly improved this afternoon and semiconscious. She had not been told of the death of her children.
The signal bell at the crossing is being made the subject of a rigid investigation today. The windows of the trolley cars were closed, and none of the passengers was able to say whether or not the bell rang.
So great was the speed of the trolley train that the automobile was shoved 150 feet along the track before the car could be brought to a stop. By that time the auto was a shapeless mass of wreckage. All its occupants had been thrown out as the machine was rolled over and over.
Members of the trolley crew and passengers found the bodies, mangled beyond recognition, under the cars. All were so cut up and tangled in the wheels that it was impossible to remove them, with the exception of MRS. MURPHY. Her body was found lying on the ties between two of the trucks of the forward car. A passenger dived under the car and put his ear to her breast. He found she was still alive.
Another automobile that came along was requisitioned. MRS. MURPHY was rushed to the hospital. A call at the same time was sent to Allentown for a wrecking crew. The ambulance from Charity Hospital hurried to the scene, but the physicians could do nothing. MURPHY, his two sisters and MISS BITZNER had been killed instantly.
Traffic on the line was tied up for more than an hour until the wrecking train arrived and lifted the heavy trolley cars with jacks. The cars are of steel and heavily built. They were not derailed or damaged by the collision.
The MURPHYS lived in Yost Road, less than a half mile from the scene of the accident. Two minutes before it happened they had left the house. Benjamin Murphy, husband of the woman now in the hospital, stood at the front door and saw the party off. He became hysterical 10 or 15 minutes later when he received word of the tragedy.

Evening Public Ledger Philadelphia Pennsylvania 1915-08-19