Hansford, WV Train And Car Collide, Sept 1937



Montgomery, W. Va., Sept. 27 (AP) -- A Chesapeake and Ohio passenger train, brakes screeching a cacophony of death, killed seven persons last night in a collision with a truck at the Hansford railroad crossing.
A mother, father and four children were among the victims.
A fifth child, two years old, is in a Montgomery hospital with a broken arm. Attaches said she would recover.
The dead:
WILLARD F. JAMES, about 60, who Trooper Ellis Lea, of the State Police said was the driver of the truck.
BERTHA BROWN, his wife, 36.
Their four children, WILLIAM, 4; MYRTLE, 9; RUBY, 12, and DONNIE, 17.
Eye witnesses said BROWN apparently threw his youngest daughter, EMOGENE, 2, clear of the wreckage before the collision, and that an unidentified negro picked up the child and turned her over to rescuers who rushed to the scene.
All of the victims were from Whittaker, mining community about 10 miles up Paint Creek. The accident occurred at the mouth of the creek, where it empties into the Kanawha River.
Friends of the BROWN family, which had moved last week from Lincoln county to Whittaker, said they had returned to their former home and were on the way back when the tragedy occurred.
JAMES was a school teacher at Winifrede.
CHARLES PORTER, owner of a garage, said that JAMES had just left his place after having the truck serviced.
A gradual incline leads to the crossing about 150 yards from the garage. Trooper Lea, of the State Police, said that there are no obstructions to a clear view of the tracks for 200 yards on each side.
D. RECCO, also owner of a garage, on the opposite side of the highway from the crossing said that while working at his establishment he heard the crash.
"I ran outside. Bodies were everywhere. It made me sick."
RECCO called ambulances and an undertaker, and the bodies were taken to East Bank.
Trooper Lea said that three eyewitnesses told him the engineer of the train, en route from Huntington and Charleston, to Washington, sounded his whistle before reaching the crossing and applied brakes but that JAMES apparently did not hear.
The chassis of the truck, torn from the body, was carried 40 yards and buried into the bed of Paint Creek.
The body was carried about 140 yards, Lea said, and thrown over on its side. The battered bodies were strewn along the tracks.
Investigators learned that JAMES had purchased the truck recently from the Koppers Coal Company.
Hansford, a town of about 500 population, is situated at the mouth of Paint Creek, about 22 miles southeast of Charleston.
The tragedy today was the worst in the district since a flood five years ago swept down the same creek and took 18 lives.

The Daily Mail Hagerstown Maryland 1937-09-27