Evans, CO Train - School Bus Wreck, Dec 1961
20 Children Killed as Passenger Train Hits School Bus East of Evans
16 Others Injured as City of Denver Plows Into Greeley School Dist. Bus
Twenty school children were killed Thursday morning in a tragic school bus-train collision two miles east and a mile south of Evans.
The accident involving a Greeley School District (No. 6) bus, was the worst in the Greeley area's history.
Bodies of the victims were taken to the old Armory on 8th Ave. Last time the Armory was used as a morgue was when the plane bombed by JOHN GILBERT GRAHAM crashed in southwest Weld County.
Sixteen youngsters were rushed to Weld County General Hospital by ambulance and private automobiles. Seventeen doctors were called into action to handle the emergencies at the hospital.
The bus carried 38 and the driver.
The school bus was carrying students to Delta School, east of Greeley, Arlington Elementary School, Meeker Junior High School and Greeley High School.
Law enforcement officers barred admittance to the hastily prepared morgue, where white sheets covered the 20 victims.
The accident occurred about 8:30 a. m., at an open, but diagonal crossing.
The school bus, driven by DUANE HARMS, rolled onto the track first and the westbound Union Pacific streamliner, City of Denver, No. 111, smashed into it at the rear.
Bus Carried Over 100 Yards
The impact carried the huge 60 passenger bus down the tracks more than 60 yards. The hood, engine, wheels and parts of the passenger section were ripped to shreds.
The engineer was HERBERT SOMMERS of Denver. The crash did little damage to the train.
Speed limit for trains in that area is 70 miles an hour. The train was reportedly preparing to slow down prior to arriving in La Salle.
Officers ordered the train moved several hundred yards west of the crash scene, where it was held for about an hour. Passengers were not allowed off the train.
Witness Claims Bus Stopped
MRS. HENRY KAUFFMAN, a mother who lives near the crash scene, was an eyewitness. She said the school bus definitely stopped before proceeding onto the tracks. MRS. KAUFFMAN had two children waiting to board the bus.
UP Says Bus Did Not Stop
However, Union Pacific officials out of Omaha told reporters that the bus slowed to a speed of about five miles an hour before entering the crossing. UP officials said the bus did not stop.
Reports were sketchy for more than a hour and a half following the accident. First reports listed the dead at 10 to 15. However, the list climbed to 20.
Some of the injured persons were reported in critical condition.
Driver Not Critically Hurt
The bus driver was not critically injured. He was taken to the Weld County Sheriff's office. Reports said he was being held there for his own protection, but an officer reported, "he's just here."
Reports continued to come in from parents of children who were scheduled to ride the bus but did not get picked up.
2 Brought by Car
MRS. JOHN DRISCOLL, Rt. 4, Greeley, said her two daughters escaped the crash. The children are BETH ANN, 13, a student at Meeker, and SANDRA, 17, a student at Greeley High.
Ironically MRS. DRISCOLL was taking her husband, a fireman for the UP, to work at the Greeley depot.
MRS. DRISCOLL, who works at J. C. Penney, said the girls were asked if they wanted to ride the bus. She said they did, but MRS. DRISCOLL decided that as long as she was going into town she would bring both children in the car.
Train Reported Behind Schedule
The UP train was reportedly three hours behind schedule when it approached the intersection.
The weather in the area was clear with below freezing temperatures. The crossing is marked with a sign, but there is no flashing light to signal the approach of a train.
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