Winslow Junction, NJ Train Derails At Curve, July 1922
9 DEAD; 10 MISSING; 72 HURT IN SHORE TRAIN WRECK.
SCORES CRUSHED IN ALL STEEL CARS AS TOWER MAN SENDS READING FLIER TO WRONG TRACK.
COACHES HURDLE A 50-FOOT GAP; PILE ON ENGINE.
RAILS GIVE WAY WHEN FLIER HITS CURVE AND CARS ARE CATAPULTED 150 YARDS.
TOWERMAN IS DETAINED AFTER FAINTING AT POST.
"MY GOD !! I SENT 33 ON WRONG TRACK," HE WIRES TO ATLANTIC CITY AND COLLAPSES.
PHONE GIRL SOUNDS ALARM.
RELIEF TRAINS RUSHED TO WINSLOW JUNCTION.
Five minutes late and driving throug the night at seventy-two miles an hour, the 11:30 P.M. flier of the Philadelphia and Reading from Camden to Atlantic City was wrecked at Winslow Junction fifteen minutes after midnight this morning.
Taking the wrong switch to Cape May by error of the towerman, the heavy train failed to respond to the rails and plunged over a steep embankment, the engine and seven cars becoming a mass of twisted wreckage.
At noon Charles H. Ewing, vice president of the road, issued an official statement, explaining that the towerman had thrown the switch "seemingly in the belief that a train of empty passenger coaches, which had previously passed, was train No. 33."
Mr. Ewing adds that the "signals, as displayed, apparently were not observed by the engineman of Train No. 33, who took the junction switch at full speed. This caused the derailment."
The vice president of the line promises a searching investigation by the road, in conjunction with the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Public Utility Commission of New Jersey.
Nine known dead had been taken out by daylight, ten were missing and seventy-two were injured, thirty-seven of them seriously. The injured included sixteen women and ten children. Seventeen of the injured are Philadelphians. The small loss of life as compared to the injured was due to the fact that the cars were all steel, which safe-guarded lives and prevented fires.
The wrecked train was catapulated at such speed that it crossed over 150 yards to the right of way of the Pennsylvania to Cape May, blocking all traffic on that railroad.
The engine of the wrecked train struck a lighting pole in going over the embankment and carried over all the feed wires, plunging the town of Winslow and the surrounding region into darkness.
A girl telephone operator at Winslow Junction on her own initiative immediately sent an alarm to hospitals, police stations, physicians and first-aid workers between Camden and Atlantic City. The first reports was that there were fifty dead and many hundred injured.
The towerman who made the fatal error of supposing that the oncoming train was a freight, which was due at the crossover to Cape May at almost the same minute, was John De Wald, now under surveillance at his home in Hammonton. When he realized that the train had been wrecked through his mistake he wired to Atlantic City:
"My God !! I sent 33 on the wrong track !!"
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