Stockton, GA Terrible Train Collision, Aug 1944


Stockton, Ga., Aug. 5 (AP) -- A west bound Atlantic Coast Line passenger train crashed into the locomotive of a by-passed freight on a siding near here early today, killing at least 47 persons, mostly railway laborers going home for the week-end to Alabama.
H. L. TOMLINSON, station agent for the railroad, said at least 47 bodies had been found. Nearly all the dead, he said, were Negroes, members of a work gang which had been at Doctortown, Ga. TOMLINSON said more bodies were in the wreckage, but he could not estimate the number. An undetermined number were injured.
TURNER ROCKWELL, managing editor of the Valdosta Times, who reached the scene shortly after the crash, said two passenger cars were demolished and two others damaged.
ROCKWELL said an apparent rail failure hurled the passenger train into the freight as it passed the siding. The passenger cars struck the engine of the freight, one splitting lengthwise. It was in this car that most of the dead were found, ROCKWELL said.
The car immediately behind that which split lengthwise was badly damaged and another was crumpled by the impact.
"When I went to the scene, shortly after it happened, bodies were lying sprawled in broken shapes," ROCKWELL said. It was impossible to make an accurate count of the dead. Some were near the engine of the freight train, evidently being hurled out of the car that was sliced in two. One body was thrown 50 feet clear of the wreckage.
"Three or four passenger cars and a baggage car were derailed," TOMLINSON said, adding that work of clearing the track probably would take all day. The wreck occurred a few minutes after midnight.
First reports were that approximately 30 persons were injured, but TOMLINSON said many of them died in hospitals and that as far as he could learn only about five or six remained under hospitalization.
The agent said a broken rail apparently threw the passenger train, No. 57 into the siding on which the freight had pulled. The fireman on the freight, whose name was not learned immediately, was scalded, TOMLINSON reported. None of the crew of the westbound train was injured, he said.
Rescue work at first was hampered by lack of lighting facilities at the scene, TOMLINSON said, but Army trucks from Moody Field at Valdosta arrived early in the morning and flooded the surrounding terrain with light from their high-powered searchlights.
TOMLINSON told of one Negro who was cut from the wreckage, walked to the highway a few feet away, asked for a cigaret[sic], lit it, then dropped dead.
A hospital car carrying wounded soldiers to Finney General Hospital at Thomasville, Ga., was attached to the rear of the passenger train and was derailed, ROCKWELL reported. It did not overturn and the soldiers, none of whom was seriously injured, were taken to Moody Field.
Most of the dead and injured were taken to Valdosta and Thomasville, and six of the injured went to Waycross. All were civilians.

Syracuse Herald Journal New York 1944-08-05




Stockton, Ga., Aug 5 (UP) -- The bodies of 45 members of a Negro work gang were found today in the splintered wreckage of an Atlantic Coast Line passenger train wrecked when a rail collapsed 14 miles east of here shortly after midnight.
At least 38 others most of them Negro laborers, were injured.
All but four of the occupants of a Red Cross hospital car transporting casualties from the Normandy battlefront escaped injuries although the car was among those derailed. The additional injuries, however, were minor.
C. G. SIBLEY, general manager of the railroad, said the train broke in two at the ninth car, an all-steel sleeper in which there were no injured.
The nex car -- a coach in which the Negroes were riding -- left the tracks and hurtled inito the engine of a freight train that had parked on a siding to let the passenger train pass.
SIBLEY said the engine and first eight-cars of the train stayed on the tracks and the passengers continued to destinations.
The train was en route from Waycross, Ga., to Montgomery, Ala. Traffic over the line was temporarily rerouted by Albany, Ga.
According to SIBLEY, the broken rail was a 100-pound section manufactured in 1927 and laid in the track during that year. "This part of the line was inspected by the sperry-rail detector car Aug. 6, 1943, when no defects were discovered in that particular run," he said.
The Red Cross car was carrying wounded soldiers to the Finney General Hospital at Thomasville, Ga. The Army would not disclose the number of passengers in that car, but four of the men were reported by the railroad to have been injured slightly.
The wreckage from the crash was strewn over an area of more than 300 yards. Lt. Col. HOWARD C. STELLING, commandant of Moody, and Lt. Col. MORRIS BURKE, chief surgeon of the post, supervised the Army's part of the rescue work and brought wreckage equipment, including airplane crash trucks, to the scene of the accident.

Syracuse Herald Journal New York 1944-08-06