Reading, PA Train - Auto Wreck, Sept 1909


Politician, His Wife, and Physician's Wife the Dead in Accident Near Reading.


Gasoline Tank Exploded and Set Fire to Wreckage and the Clothing of the Victims.

READING, Penn., Sept. 2.---Mrs. and Mrs. William L. Graul of Temple, Penn., and Dr. and Mrs. Samuel E. Slegel of this city, on their return from a trip to the Delaware Water Gap in Mr. Graul's touring car, crossed the tracks of the Pennsylvania Railroad at Douglasville this afternoon. As they did so the market train, due in this city at 2:37, struck the machine and threw it for a distance of about fifty feet down a steep embankment.

The occupants of the auto were thrown about fifty feet into the air and landed in the middle of the track, with the exception of Dr. Slegel. Mr. Graul and his wife were dead when help came, and Mrs. Slegel was breathing faintly. She died about five minutes later. Her husband lay near by with both legs badly mangled. He was perfectly conscious and gave the names of the party.

The bodies of the victims were torn. The automobile was totally wrecked, and parts of it were thrown for a distance of 150 feet. With the collision the gasoline tank exploded. Within a few seconds the entire wreckage was a mass of flames. The clothing of the victims caught fire, and, but for the prompt action of the train crew and farmers living near by, the bodies would have been burned.

The accident happened so quickly that the occupants of the automobile had little time to think. They were coming north, and it is said that the view of the track was obstructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad station near by. The bell at the crossing, it is said, was ringing as the automobile approached, but the occupants apparently did not hear it.

The party left Reading for the Delaware Water Gap last Sunday, and they had had a pleasant trip up to the time of the accident. Mr. Graul was 64 years of age and his wife 58. They leave two sons and a daughter. A son, E. L. Graul, is chief train dispatcher for the Reading Railway Company in this city.

Dr. Slegel and his wife were married but a year and an half ago and have no children. Dr. Slegel was brought to a local hospital, where late to-night it was said that he might recover.

William L. Graul bought the automobile but a few weeks ago, and this was the first long trip. For nearly a quarter of a century he was the proprietor of the Temple Hotel. Mr. Graul was one of the best-known Democratic leaders of Berks County.

The New York Times, New York, NY 3 Sept 1909