Newtownville, NJ Train And Labor Bus Collide, July 1968
TRAIN SPLITS BUS, 9 DIE -- 3 ARE CHESTER CHILDREN.
Nine persons, including three Chester children, were killed at 6:20 p.m. Tuesday when the migrant farm labor bus they were riding was ripped in two by a seashore-bound passenger train in Newtownville, N.J.
Five of the dead were children who sat in the rear of the bus as it was bringing the 32 Chester-Wilmington area residents back from a day of blueberry picking in Mays Landing, N.J.
State police said the two-car diesel powered Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines train struck the rear of the bus as it was crossing the single track and threw the back portion of the vehicle 200 feet from the point of impact.
Dead on arrival at Kessler Memorial Hospital in Hammonton, were:
GEORGE COSTEN, 16, of 1023 W. 3rd St., Chester.
EUGENE COSTEN, 13, GEORGE'S brother.
PATRICIA TWEEDY, 11, of 227 Flower St., Chester.
AMOS GOULDEN, 606 Spruce St., Wilmington.
ANDREI HOWELL, 13, of 306 French St., Wilmington.
EUGENE HOWELL, 15, same address.
CHARLES LIVINGSTON, 801 New Castle Ave., Wilmington.
WALTER BRANCH, 62, of 607 Cunard St., Wilmington.
ARVILLA BROWN, 48, Brandywine St., Wilmington.
Four other Wilmington area residents were hospitalized in serious or critical condition and the remaining passengers on the bus, including five Chester residents, were treated for minor injuries.
New Jersey State Trooper Andrew Robertson who arrived at the accident scene about five minutes after the crash, said the bus was traveling west on Malaga Road.
The bus driver, identified as LEVE CLARK, 33, of 1120 N. 2nd St., Chester, was bringing the workers from the Crescent Farms in Mays Landing, the trooper said.
The train carrying about 150 passengers, was southbound when it struck the bus' right side behind the rear wheels.
"Seven bodies were strewn along the railroad bed, some of them hidden in the bushes," Robertson said. "Two of the bodies, including the TWEEDY
girl, were imbedded on the front of the train."
The train had traveled about four-tenths of a mile past the Malaga Road crossing and it wasn't until searchers started toward the train that they saw the dead, the trooper said.
Chester residents treated for minor injuries at Kessler Hospital were:
ROBERT HOLLAND, 1010 Ray St.
ADDIE MAE ANDERSON, 37, 227 Flower St.
JAMES ANDERSON, same address.
PEARL GREEN, 57, 715 W. 3rd St.
MRS. GEORGE COSTEN, mother of two of the victims, said today her sons were picking berries to earn spending money "and to help get their school clothes."
"They didn't go every day, but the majority of the time. There are 15 children in my family, so they helped with the clothing."
"EUGENE was making his little money, and spending it as fast as he got it -- you know how kids spend money," she said.
MRS. COSTEN was not notified of the accident.
"I heard the news on television and when they were not home by 11 o'clock I got worried," she said. The mother learned of the deaths after calling Kessler Hospital, she said.
Trooper Robertson said CLARK, who was treated for minor injuries, was carrying a Delaware driver's license which had expired in March of this year.
The bus was owned by CHARLES BRADLEY of 460 Bradley St., Chester, police said.
BRADLEY said today he usually drives the bus and transports the farm labor to various locations in New Jersey, but missed the trip Tuesday because he was ill.
Asked if he was aware that CLARK'S license had expired, he said, "No, I wasn't. He showed me a chauffeur's license about a month ago, but I didn't know it had expired."
According to Robertson, there were four other children injured on the bus.
BRADLEY said he was "surprised" there were so many youngsters on the bus because, "I usually don't carry children too much."
Robertson said CHARLES HECK, senior inspector for the New Jersey Department of Labor's Bureau of Migrant Labor, would investigate the accident.
(A Daily Times reporter recently posed as a migrant laborer at a New Jersey blueberry farm and found violations of wage and child labor laws.)
(The reporter found children not even 10 years old picking berries, although state law says they must be 12, and workers receiving only half the minimum wage. Some workers were forced to sit on crates in the bus which took the workers to New Jersey.)
Robertson said the bus struck by the train had seats for about 33 persons and was not overcrowded.
The Malaga Road grade crossing rises only slightly and commands a good view of the straight track, police said. The weather was clear.
"The driver (CLARK) told me he stopped, and I was told by someone else he didn't come to a complete stop," said Robertson.
There are no flashing lights at the crossing only a painted sign warning of a railroad crossing.
Police could give no estimate on the speed of the train, but said the crossing is located in a 70 mile an hour zone.
Police were to receive statements today from the train's engineer and CLARK.
Delaware County Daily Times Chester Pennsylvania 1968-07-24