Danville, IL (near) Interurban Cars Collide, June 1928



Danville, Ill., June 1. -- (AP) -- Two interurban cars of the Illinois traction system crashed head on near Fithian, seven miles west of here, late yesterday. Seven persons were killed, five were probably fatally hurt and 15 others were injured less seriously.
Failure of airbrakes of the eastbound limited, which was to have taken a siding to let the westbound local pass, was blamed for the accident. The motorman of the limited, CLARENCE CUMMINGS, Danville, escaped with bruises, jumping when he realized he could not check his car. FRANK CRAIG, Danville, motorman of the eastbound local, was killed.
All the dead and seriously injured were in the local, a car of wooden construction. The limited was of steel.
List Of Killed.
The dead:
FRANK CRAIG, Danville, motorman of the local.
DR. CHARLES B. JOHNSON, Champaign, Ill.
DR. GEORGE JOHNSON, Terre Haute, Ind., his son.
DENNIS PYLE, Whiteheath, Ill.
IRA CLODSELPER, Whiteheath, Ill.
FRED GULICK, St. Joseph, Ill.
E. R. TOWNSEND, Bement, Ill.
"Everybody on both coaches could see the crash coming," said HARLAN FAIRCHILD, one of the injured. "Men shouted and women screamed in my car when they saw the two trains rush toward each other."
"But no one moved. There wasn't time to. Just the seats jumped forward -- and then it was all over."
C. J. SMITH, Fithian farmer, was plowing 200 feet away when he heard screams above the roar of the interurbans.
"There was an awful smash, and then everything was quiet," he said. "I ran as fast as I could to the two coaches, and when I got there, people were just beginning to move. It looked like everybody that wasn't dead had been stunned."
The major casualties were in the eastbound local train. All the dead were in the smoking compartment in the forepart of that car, the front of which was smashed to splinters. The dead were mangled by flying wood, glass and steel.
Motorists driving on state highway 10, which runs close and parallel to the traction tracks were the first rescue workers in the scene. They used their cars as hearses and ambulances to move victims to Danville, Champaign and Urbana.
Half a dozen ambulances raced to the scene from the three cities, bearing doctors and nurses. Three wrecking cars from Danville were used to separate the two wrecked cars and extricate the dead and injured.
Motorman CRAIG died in the automobile of an unidentified traveling salesman who was trying to get him to a Danville hospital.
"I saw it coming," he gasped. "I saw the limited run by the switch where it was suposed to wait for me and I slowed down to 20 miles an hour."
"It kept on coming. I used the airbrake and I went into reverse. Just as we hit I jumped."
He lived less than 15 minutes after the crash.
DR. JOHNSON, who was among those killed, was 85 years old, a member of the state board of health, a leader in the state G. A. R. and well known for books on Illinois medical history. One of his sons, J. E. JOHNSON, is vice president of the Illinois Power & Light Co., which controls the Illinois Traction system.
His other son, killed in the seat beside him, was a Terre Haute, Ind., physician.

Waterloo Evening Curier Iowa 1928-06-01