Conneaut, OH Area Three-Train Collision, Mar 1953
17 DEAD, 62 HURT IN 3-TRAIN WRECK
Conneaut, O. (AP) -- At least 17 persons died in a pile-up of two passenger trains and a New York Central freight near here last night. A deputy coroner said "maybe four more bodies" were under wreckage. That would raise the death total to 21.
Deputy Coroner WALLACE C. MULLIGAN of Erie, Pa., County, said one body was taken from the jumble of torn and twisted cars 12 hours after the smash-up.
Earlier, Coroner WARREN WOOD reported 16 bodies had been transported to Erie, 27 miles east of the wreck.
Sixty-two injured were in two hospitals in Erie, one here and one in nearby Ashtabula. Reports were that only one of 62 was in poor condition.
None of 18 trainmen on the three trains was hurt.
The freight and the two express trains piled up between 10 and 10:30 o'clock last night.
A piece of pipe - 35 feet long, 18 inches in diameter and weighing about a ton - rolled off an east-bound freight, derailing some cars of a westbound freight that followed.
A Buffalo-to-Chicago passenger train, roaring along at 80 miles an hour, smashed into the derailed freights. A minute later the Southwestern. Limited, en route from St. Louis to New York, rammed the wreckage.
Runs 3 Miles For Aid.
A railroad man had to run three miles to report the wreck, and the hurtling debris felled communication lines between here and Erie. More than 1,000 feet of rail were torn up.
One of the injured said it was nearly an hour before rescue workers got into the torn and twisted cars. And it was nearly eight hours later and after daybreak before the rescue and first-aid crews finished their task. Some injured were taken by hand car to a road where ambulances waited.
The wreck, blocking the Central's main line, occurring on "State Line Curve" about four miles east of Conneaut, O., and just across the Pennsylvania border.
First Aid For 100.
Only a rutty lane led from the thicketed area of the wreckage to the nearest highway two miles to the south. The lane soon was blocked with cars mired in hub-deep mud.
More than 100 persons, hurt only slightly, were treated at an emergency Red Cross first-aid station.
One man, ANDY ARANYONS, an employe at a nearby filling station and one of the first to reach the scene, said he, "helped carry out at least 10 dead."
"We just put them there on the ground and left them there covered," ARANYONS said. "There was no panic among the passengers when I got there."
"There were so many injured we couldn't get any help at first from the passengers. In one car, a coach, I found two dead. Then I walked around the car in the mud and I heard some people crying in another car."
Mud Delays Rescuers.
The wreckage laid in muddy, uneven country amid woods and brush. Stretcher bearers labored a quarter of a mile through the brush to a narrow dirt road on which ambulances skidded in single file.
The triple crash involved this weird sequence of events:
An eastbound NYC freight train lost a piece of pipe, which fell into the path of a westbound freight. The westbound freight was derailed. Several cars piled atop an adjoining track.
The the Buffalo-to-Chicago Express, No. 5, struck the wreckage of the freight. All but one of the train's 11 cars were derailed.
Then, No. 12, the eastbound Southwest Limited, plowed into the wreckage of No. 5. All but three of the Limited's 10 cars derailed.
"The Damndest Mess"
"It was the damndest mess of wreckage I ever saw," saw a Ft. Wayne, Ind., truck driver, O. D. WATSON. "It makes our highway accidents look like nothing."
"They're all mangled and everything else," said TONY TALARICO, who works at a filling station nearby. "The dead are strewn all over the tracks. Telephone poles are down and everything else."
FRANK ALEKSANDROWITZ, staff photographer for the Erie Dispatch, said:
"I saw 11 bodies stretched out. In addition there are five persons who are dead in one of the compartments in a car which is so badly damaged that rescue workers are going to have to use torches to extricate the bodies."
"I saw another man lying dead under the tracks. It was an awful sight."
Passengers Keep Calm.
State patrolmen of Pennsylvania and Ohio worked with a Red Cross disaster unit, volunteers from the country-side and railroaders to get the wounded out.
One impression every uninjured passenger seemingly carried away with him was that there was no panic among the passengers.
FREDERICK PECKMAN of the Bronx said, "No one was hurt much in our car, but I could see some of the injured walking by outside or being carried by the rescue workers."
"We were in the car several hours before they got us out -- I think it was about four hours. Instead of a lot of fuss, it seemed almost like everything was too quiet."
"It kinda got on my nerves after a while."
THE KNOWN DEAD.
Erie, Pa. (AP) -- Coroner WARREN WOOD announced the following identified dead in the Conneaut train wreck:
DAN DICKERSON, 38, Washington, Ill.
EDNA M. RYAN, 25, nurse at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Cleveland.
VAUGHN A. WHITE, 26, Norwood, N. Y.
FRANK SUCH, 231 Doat st., Buffalo.
RUSSELL F. HILL, 30, no address.
A. E. CHADICK, 1302 Carondelet, New Orleans, La.
JAMES SCHUH, Hotel Lox Plaza, Rockport, N. Y.
HERBERT L. EMORY, 3749 Drummond St., Toledo, O.
TOM HENDERSON, 334 Wayne St., Erie, Pa.
MRS. JOSEPH CUTRI, 1158 Brant Ave., Erie, Pa.
L. H. BUHS, 1511 E. Mile Rd., Hazel Park, Mich.
MRS. BESS WALLACE, 40, Cottage St., Westfield, N. Y.
Her daughter, EMMA GRACE WALLACE, 16, also of Westfield.
MRS. ETHEL QUINN, 253 E. 17th St., Erie, Pa.
JAMES R. WHALEN, 5553 Washington St., Ashtabula, O.
MRS. M. J. WHITE, Hogansburg, N. Y. In Ashtabula Hospital.
DONALD SHIRER, 41 Olmsted Falls, N. Y. In Hamot Hospital.
Most of the injured were from far Western New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. There were several from New York City.
The Adirondack Daily Enterprise New York 1953-03-28
Researched and Transcribed by Stu Beitler. Thank you, Stu!