Kingsland, IN Terrible Interurban Accident, Sept 1910
INTERURBAN DISASTER DUE TO BLUNDER
Motorman Deliberately Violated Orders and Forty Perished in Resultant Crash.
FORT WAYNE, Ind., Sept. 22. -- The authorities of Wells county and officials of the traction company today are making a rigid investigation to attach responsibility for the collision of two traction cars on the Bluffton line of the Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley Traction company yesterday, in which forty persons were killed and eight injured.
Today Frank I. HARDY, superintendent of transportation of the traction company, stated that disregard of orders caused the wreck and that B. T. CORKWELL, motorman of the southbound train, probably is the one to blame.
The disaster, rated as the worst in all interurban history, occurred at a sharp curve, near Kingsland, six miles from Bluffton. The line is operated under a block system and until the railway makes public the orders issued the crews, it will not be definitely known which motorman was negligent.
The southbound car, the one going to Bluffton, was manned by Conductor DEL WILSON, of Ossian, and Motorman B. T. CORKWELL, of Fort Wayne. The northbound car, which was crowded to the steps with sightseers, was in charge of Conductor EARNEST. A. SPILLNER and Motorman CHARLES VAN DYNE, both of Bluffton. The four trainmen were injured, but all will probably recover.
It is said that CORKWELL was to wait at Greensboro, a station between Kingsland and Ossian, for the northbound train, but that, instead of doing this, he tried to meet the other car at Kingsland.
The crash came soon after the northbound car had left Kingsland. The cars were telescoped almost their entire length.
Out of forty-five or fifty passengers, but one man has so far been discovered who escaped entirely unhurt. Most of the deaths were instantaneous.
The spot where the wreck occurred is isolated and it was an hour and a half after the collision that physicians arrived on the scene from Bluffton and Fort Wayne and the actual relief work began. The dead were laid in rows in a grove nearby. The bodies were horribly mangled. Legs and arms were severed and heads in some cases nearly cut from bodies.
Relatives of the dead arriving at the grove were hysterical, making the work of the doctors doubly difficult.
Conductor SPILLNER, of the Bluffton local, was not seriously injured and his presence of mind averted another accident. When SPILLNER saw the extent of the catastrophe he ran back toward Kinsgland and stopped the Indianapolis limited, which was coming at full speed. Had it not been stopped it would have crashed into the struggling and dying mass of humanity left in the wake of the crash.
JOHN R. BOYD, of Marion, Ind., was probably the only passenger aboard the ill-fated car who escaped without any injury. BOYD owes his life to the fact that he was compelled to hang on to the rear step of the north bound car, unable to get in a place on the platform owing to the crowd. As the car was taking the curve, BOYD says he got a long look ahead and saw the southbound car coming head on. He jumped from the car.
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