Vergennes, VT Train Wreck, Dec 1906

WOMEN HELD IN WRECK TILL FIRE KILLS THEM

Rescuers Helpless as Flames Approach Victims After Crash.

OPERA COMPANY ON TRAIN

Many of Its Members Are Injured--Gravel Train in Vermont Smashes Into Passenger Coaches.

Special to The New York Times.

BURLINGTON, Vt., Dec. 1.--Pinned in the wreckage of a passenger car and conscious of the death that was approaching three women were burned alive today. Fourteen people were also seriously injured and a dozen more were slightly hurt as the result of a rear-end collision on the Rutland Railroad, at Vergennes, a station twenty miles south of this city, soon after 9 o'clock this morning.

A north-bound accommodation train, composed of fifteen freight cars, a passenger car, and a combination car, was passing to a siding to allow a south-bound passenger train to pass. A freight train was already on the siding, and the engineer was unable to draw the passenger cars from the main track.

The mixed train was closely followed by a loaded gravel train, and Conductor G. M. Bell sent a man back to flag the latter. The engineer saw the signal and applied the air brakes, which failed to work. He whistled for down brakes, but it was too late, and the engine plowed into the passenger cars, throwing them down a steep embankment.

None of the passengers was killed by the shock, but many were pinned in the wreckage, and fire quickly completely the destruction of the cars.

The dead are:

Mrs. W. A. Lawrence
Mrs. Nellie Barnard
Miss Cornelia Stowe of Bristol.

Of the seriously injured the following were taken to the Mary Fletcher Hospital in this city:

Miss Rossetter Faulk of New York, leading woman of the Drury Opera Company; probably fatally injured.
Theodore Drury, colored, of New York, manager of the Drury Opera Company; ribs broken and seriously injured about the body.
F. W. Granville Savage of New York, backer of the opera company; bruised and burned.
William Scudder of New York; hip sprained;
Roger Satterell, head and shoulders bruised;
Oscar Jenkins of New York; leg and foot burned;
Moritz E. Van Houten of New York, leader of the opera company band; hip dislocated;
Sconel Gettings of New York, bruised and burned.

The following injured were taken to the Stevens House, in Vergennes:

William Simpson of Waterbury, right leg broken;
Mrs. William Simpson of Waterbury, badly bruised;
A. C. Bristol Dyke, Assistant Principal of the High School, fatal internal injuries;
Edna Simpkins of New York, clavicle fractured; condition grave.

Almost instantly after the crash, fire broke out, and the oil-soaked woodwork of the passenger cars became a mass of flames. Those who were free immediately began the work of rescue, and several of the injured were pulled from the wreck. It was impossible, however, to release the three women, whose appeals for help were heartrending.

A trainman attempted to rescue one of the women pinned in the wreck. He worked by the flames, but was unable to rescue her. When she saw there was no escape she told him to take $1,500 she had with her. Before he could do so the flames drove him away and she sank back and died.

Mrs. Wallace Frank, who was taken from the wreck, said the first she knew of trouble was the whistling of the approaching engine. Instantly there was a crash, and the next she realized she was pinned fast in the wreck. Mrs. Barnard and Miss Stowe sat two seats ahead of her in the car, and Mrs. Lawrence just ahead of them. She could see Mrs. Barnard pinned fast on her back in the wreck. Miss Stowe was in a sitting position and her face was visible.

The body of Mrs. Lawrence was identified by a diamond ring which lay where her right hand had been. The hand was burned away. Mrs. Lawrence was on her way to Burlington to prepare for a trip to the West which she and her husband, and ex-State Senator, were planning to take within a few days. The bodies of the three women were removed and taken to Bristol.

The officials of the railroad are able to account for thirty-six of the passengers, but Conductor Bell has lost the tickets he had collected, and is unable to tell how many passengers were in the cars when the accident occurred.

The Drury Opera Company of New York was on its way from Middlebury to this city, where they were scheduled to give two performances this afternoon and evening. Owing to the injury of many members of the company, the organization is obliged to cancel its engagements for the present.

The Drury Opera Company is entirely made up of negro singers. Last Spring it appeared for two weeks at the Fourteenth Street Theatre, singing "Carmen" and "Alda."

The New York Times, New York, NY 2 Dec 1906