Hopewell, VA Bus Plunges Through Open Drawbridge, Dec 1935
14 Drown As Bus Plunges Through Open Drawbridge
All Bodies Are Recovered After 12-Hour Effort To Raise Death Car Succeeds.
Accident Happens Near Hopewell, Va.
Officials Declare Safety Gates Automatic, View Not Obstructed.
HOPEWELL, Va., Dec. 22 -“ (AP) - Fourteen persons met death in the icy waters of the Appomattox river today when an Atlantic Greyhound bus plunged through an open drawbridge. All the bodies were recovered late tonight.
The dead, twelve of which had not been identified, were nine white women, three white men, and two Negro women. The driver, L. G. ALFORD, and J. B. BELCH of Hopewell, who escaped from the bus and was rescued, but later died, were the only ones identified.
The following names were found on pieces of baggage:
MISS GERTRUDE and MISS ELIZABETH FISHER, of McKenney, Va.; MRS. J. M. GREGORY, of Pittsboro, N. C.; and MISS or MRS. ANDREWS of Pittsboro, N. C.
Driver Found at Wheel.
It was learned from Raleigh, however, that the baggage bearing the name of MRS. J. M. GREGORY was evidently carried by MRS. ANNIE WILLIAMS DUNCAN of Pittsboro, MRS. GREGORY'S sister. MRS. GREGORY was reported to be safe at her home in Pittsboro.
The huge bus was raised from the 30 foot channel of the river late tonight. The driver was at his seat.
The bus was brought to the surface more than 12 hours after it plunged into the ice coated water this morning, but it was eleven o'clock tonight before the last of the 12 bodies in it was recovered.
Hundreds Work at Scene.
The body of one woman was extracted from the bus by a diver before it was raised.
No attempt at identification was made tonight before the bodies were carried here to funeral homes.
Hundreds of men worked all day in sub-freezing temperatures and a snowstorm that virtually became a blizzard tonight to rescue the bodies.
They were hampered by the freezing of ropes as they were pulled through the water and by the depth of the river channel and the tides moving along it.
Bus Little Damaged.
KLAAS EVERTS of Norfolk, deep sea diver, attached the cables to the bus which was lifted by a huge crane to a barge. The work was directed by Capt. IRVING LEETZ of Hopewell.
The bus apparently was not seriously damaged except for broken glass windows.
The bodies were brought out one at a time on the deck of the barge, and were laid out in the wicker caskets and then taken to the funeral homes.
One couple, seated side by side in one of the front seats, had been eating walnuts and each held a walnut tightly in their hands, the young man having his arm around the girl who wore a wedding ring.
Thousands Watch Work.
A wristwatch on the arm of one man was stopped at 8:55 which witnesses said was the hour of the plunge.
Thousands of people watched the work of recovering the bodies from the ends of the bridge, held back by lines of state police.
Salvation Army lasses and Red Cross nurses endured the icy blasts of the blizzard to distribute steaming hot coffee and fruit to the tired workers on the ice-coated bridge and barge.
Most of the windows were broken before the bus was pulled from the water. Workers broke the remainder to reach the victims' bodies.
Continued on page 2