Long Beach, CA Electric Train Collision, Mar 1907





A rear end collision on the Pacific Electric railroad at 6:15 o'clock last night wrecked two cars and injured twenty-one persons. The Long Beach flyer, checking speed when trolley left the wire, was overtaken by San Pedro car No. 264 at Forty-Seventh Street and Long Beach Avenue. The Long Beach car was running nearly twenty miles an hour and its pursuer almost twice that speed. Both cars were thrown from the track and the 150 passengers were taken from the splintered ruins of the walls of the cars, the seats and the windows. The wreck is said to have been caused by the failure of Conductor C. H. HERNDON of the Long Beach to display tail lights, or to signal with his lantern when his car began to slow down, after the trolley left the wire.
The names of the injured were gathered with great difficulty, many of the victims having left the wreck without any of the representatives of the company inquiring their names.
According to several who were injured, more than half an hour passed before relief or medical aid arrived. Most of the injured persons were in the rear car, the San Pedro car being more heavily crowded than the flyer. Motorman O'SHEA of the San Pedro car saw the car ahead checking speed when fifty yards behind it and whistled several times.
HERNDON was trying to connect the trolley and apparently did not see the approaching San Pedro car. O'SHEA set the brakes, but the rails were slippery with the rain and the uncontrolled car, lurching with renewed speed down a slight grade, hurled itself against the other. The rear platform was torn off. The heavy frame work of the car, driven with frightful impact, tore through the rear of the Long Beach car. Although both cars were derailed neither was overturned, which probably accounts for the lack of fatalities.
In the rear car every seat was torn loose, as well as the cash register and all the inner panels of the walls. After the uninjured passengers had recovered from the benumbing effect of the shock the work of taking out the cut and bleeding victims was begun. R. J. FRIEDMANN of San Pedro led the rescue work, tearing his shirt in shreds to help stay the flow of blood of those most severely injured.
Conductor PACKARD, who was the least dangerously injured of the train crew, telephoned immediately to the Pacific Electric hospital for help. Messages were sent for nearby physicians, but there was a long delay before any arrived, said by the passengers to have been half an hour. Those of the injured who had not already left or had been taken home by friends were placed on a relief car and taken to the Pacific Electric hospital in the station.
At the scene of the wreck, at the company's hospital and at the emergency hospital, where a number of the injured were taken, every possible effort was made to suppress information regarding the wreck. At the station employes were stationed to withstand inquirers. When a man's injuries had been attended to he was taken from the place in charge of an attendant and no one was allowed to speak to him. It required the time of two men nearly two hours to keep inquiring reporters from J. P. Spaulding of San Pedro, but when Spaulding was hidden away on a car and spirited away a reporter was by his side and got his story.

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