Connellsville, PA Train Wreck, Dec 1912
DEATH TOLL IN WRECK IS FIVE; CREW CENSURED.
IMPROPER HANDLING BELIEVED CAUSE OF FREIGHT'S WILD RACE.
GENERAL MANAGER'S STATEMENT.
Besides Crew, Bodies of Two Others are Found and More May Be Buried Beneath the Debris -- Injured Fireman is Dying, Brakeman is Better.
The toll of death in Thursday's terrible wreck on the Connellsville division of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad was placed at five Friday. It will likely grow. In addition to the two trainmen known to have perished, another is missing and the safety of one in doubt. Besides these, two other bodies were found in the wreckage. One was that of JOHN EVANS, a pumper who lived at Hyndman, and the other supposedly a tramp.
Just what has become of Fireman C. S. GARDNER is in doubt. Although the official report of General Manager C. W. GALLOWAY states that he leaped from his locomotive with Engineer GEORGE KIMMELL, all other reports state that the fireman is still missing and he is supposed to have perished.
That the train was improperly handled is the conclusion reached by General Manager GALLOWAY, who states that a thorough investigation will be made. Engineer KIMMELL'S statement declares positively that the proper safeguards were taken before going over the knuckle of Sand Patch hill, but officials of the road cannot understand why the train was not held under control if all precautions had been observed.
With the death list now standing at five, it is expected to be increased. Fireman MAX A. SPECHT is dying in the Cumberland hospital but Brakeman E. HENRY SMITH has some chance of recovery. He is also in the Cumberland hospital. Both men were resting better at noon. SPECHT'S wife arrived in Cumberland from Waynesboro, Pa., today.
Engineer GEORGE KIMMELL, who escaped by jumping from his locomotive, and Conductor SYLVESTER K. RINGLER, who at one time resided in Connellsville, are not seriously hurt.
The body of Engineer C. N. MARTZ of Hyndman, was found underneath the wreckage at 10 o'clock last night. The cars and engines were piled in such a manner that the wrecking crews could not tell whether MARTZ had made an attempt to escape as his engine was leaving the rails, or had clung to the train to the last. He was crushed terribly.
The body of JOHN EVANS a pumper from Hyndman, was found in the cab of the second engine, according to the workmen. From the story learned from them, EVANS was employed as a pumper at the Sand Patch tunnel improvements and had climbed on the freight to ride home.
An unidentified man, supposedly a trespasser, was dug out. His body, crushed between two cars when they left the track, was taken to Rockwood on a tool car.
Search throughout the night failed to reveal W. G. SMALL, brakeman, and C. S. GARDNER, fireman. Some workmen near the Sand Patch tunnel said they thought they saw GARDNER jump from his engine.
Two tracks were cleared by night, and all east and westbound passengers and west bound freights were sent over them. The eastbound freight was detoured over the Western Maryland line. The Rockwood wrecking crew left the scene of the wreck last night, but the Connellsville and Cumberland crews remained. Officials here today said the third track would be cleared probably by tomorrow.
With regard to the accident, C. W. GALLOWAY, General Manager of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad made the following official statement as to the cause of the accident:
"Engine 2541, in charge of Engineer C. N. MARTZ, picked up 20 cars of coal at Rockwood, and on account of the mountain grade, engine 2354, in charge of Engineer GEORGE KIMMEL, coupled on ahead to assist from that point. They moved over to Garrett and picked up 22 additional loads, which completed their train, making 42 loaded cars in the train after leaving Garrett, this required the assistance of a second helper, which is the customary practice, and engine 2320 and coupled on the rear."
"The train then proceeded to the top of the mountain at Sand Patch, where the rear helper was cut off. This left the two engines on the head end of the train, and appears from the information so far at hand, that it was the purpose of the crew to take the head engine through and cut it off east of the tunnel."
"Engineman KIMMELL, of the head engine, says that the air was tested at Sand Patch and was in working condition, and he believes that the angle cock of the air brake was turned behind the tank of his engine, cutting off the braking power, which is always in the case of two engines, controlled by the head engine."
"He makes the statement that the speed of the train increasedimmediately after crossing the summit of the mountain and entering the tunnel. This condition we are unable to account for, and there is every indication that the train was improperly handled, but all the facts with respect to this are not obtainable at this time and can only be developed by investigation."
General Manager GALLOWAY said he would hold the investigation in Connellsville to determine the cause of the wreck as soon as the injured members of the crew are able to be present.
The Rockwood tool train, while on its way to the Glencoe smashup, tore out five sets of posts in Sand Patch tunnel, making it unsafe for use. The tunnel was repaired by 2 o'clock in the afternoon and traffic through it resumec.
The Weekly Courier Connellsville Pennsylvania 1912-12-19