Richmond Hill, NY Passenger Trains Collide Nov 1950
75 ESTIMATED KILLED IN LONG ISLAND WRECK; 2 PASSENGER TRAINS COLLIDE
125 HURT BADLY IN QUEENS BORO RAILROAD CRASH.
New York, Nov. 22 (AP) -- The nation's worst rail disaster in years, a rear end collision between two Long Island passenger trains jammed with Thanskgiving eve commuters, killed 75 persons tonight.
The estimate of the dead came from Police Inspector JOSEPH A. CURRY, commanding rescue work at the scene. He said 33 bodies had been removed with many more still buried in the wreckage.
More than 125 passengers were injured as the two trains came together with a roar in Eastern New York city on Long Island.
It was New York city and state's worst wreck ever. The estimate of dead would make it the worst in the United States since a 1943 disaster at Frankfort Junction, Philadelphia killed 79 persons.
The motorman of the first train said his brakes locked as he slowed his train at about 6:30 o'clock. A second train roaring in from behind, knifed into the standing train.
The front and end cars that took the shock of the impact were telescoped or sliced apart "like a loaf of bread."
From all over the great New York city area poured rescue workers with power saws, jacks and acetylen torches to try to cut the trapped victims from the ghastly mess.
Searchlights picked out the still figures of passengers inside the cars, their heads lolling in death like pale rag dolls.
"It's a bloody, bloody mess," said a physician who treated some victims. "War couldn't be any worse."
Said HOWARD AUSTIN, conductor of the second train:
"Both of the telescoped cars were jammed with passengers and I don't see how any of them could have escaped alive."
The crash scene is 13 miles from Times Square, in the Kew Gardens section of Queens boro. It is on the Long Island's main line from Pennsylvania station to the island.
The area is a quiet one of private homes, small shops and towering apartment dwellings.
The first train No. 780, left Penn Station at 6:00 p. m. bound for Hempstead.
Four minutes behind it came No. 174 on its way to Babylon, along the same line where last February's crash occurred.
Motorman WILLIAM MURPHY on the first train told police he slowed for a caution signal. It changed to a go-ahead, he said, but for some unexplained reason his brakes jammed and he could not release them. His train ground to a stop.
There was no explanation why the railroad's block signal did not stop the second train.
"The train stopped for a few seconds," said ANTHONY TARTAGLIA, a passenger on the first train. "Then she tried to start up. Then all hell broke loose."
The crash came with what eyewitnesses described as a roar and a flash of light. There was no fire.
The lead car of the second train burrowed under the last car of the first train.
Said Accountant JEFF KAUFMAN, a passenger on the Babylon train: "I saw steel shooting thru the car. It was sheared right in half -- like a slice of bread."
He said there was no panic but that shrieks of the dying filled the moment of awful silence that followed the ripping, grinding crash.
Few of the cars were derailed.
As thousands of horrified onlookers gathered, the grim rescue work began beneath the searchlights. Women wept and cried in the semi-daylight of the lights as they sought friends or relatives in the wreckage.
Arms and legs of victims hung out thru holes or rips in the cars.
Priests, ministers and rabbis moved thru the tangled mass of rescue apparatus, doing what they could to ease the torture of trapped or injured passengers.
Ambulances slipped into the center of the area, took on their loads of groaning victims and then dashed off to one of six hospitals pressed into service.
First persons on the scene took some of the injured to private homes.
Some of the trapped and injured looked down from the wrecked cars watching the rescue operations thru their pain-induced stupor.
The Queens Red Cross put an unlimited supply of blood plasma and whole blood at the disposal of rescue workers.
Women living in the area set up aid stations for the less badly injured. They also served hot coffee, tea and soup to survivors.
SHERWOOD FAUBEL, 40, of Hempstead, said the train on which he was a passenger was so crowded people were standing in the aisle.
Most of them were homeward bound from their New York jobs. Others were headed for a Thanksgiving holiday on Long Island.
FAUBEL gave this description of the crash:
"Suddenly all the lights went out and the crash came. There were screams and shouts and frightful confusion as everybody tried to jam out at once."
"The car I was in was packed with a lot of people in the aisle. I managed to crawl toward the head of the car on my hands and knees and get out somewhow[sic], after awhile."
Last February, two Long Island trains, came together head on in Rockville Center on a stretch of temporary track.
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