Otterville, MO Trains Collide In Snowstorm, Jan 1948
2 TRAINS CRASH IN A SNOWSTORM; 14 KNOWN DEAD.
SECOND SECTION OF ONE PLOWS INTO REAR OF OTHER AND ALL IN SLEEPING CAR ARE KILLED.
ACCIDENT OCCURS AT OTTERVILLE, MO.
Low Temperatures Delay Rescue Work -- Wife of Former Ambassador to Spain One of Victims.
Otterville, Mo., Jan. 1 --(AP)-- The second section of a Missouri Pacific train plowed into the rear end of another passenger train in a driving snowstorm near here today, killing at least 14 holiday travelers, one of whom was tentatively identified as the wife of the former Ambassador to Spain, ALEXANDER W. WEDDELL.
The former ambassador also was reported aboard the train, but he had not been accounted for by officers. At Richmond, Va., relatives said the WEDDELLS were en route to Tuscon, Ariz., together with a maid, MISS VIOLA ANDREWS.
The two sections of "The Missourian" were running far behind schedule at about 8 o'clock this morning on their night run from St. Louis to Kansas City when the locomotive of the second section crashed into the rear Pullman of the first train, killing all occupants of the car.
Thirteen Bodies Removed.
The engine rammed itself through the sleeping car, crushing everything inside into a space of only about 10 feet. Torches were employed to cut the wreckage apart and remove the bodies.
Thirteen bodies were removed from the wreckage by rescuers, working in bitter, sub-freezing weather, and another victim died in a hospital at nearby Sedalia. Lieutenant K. K. JOHNSON of the Missouri state highway patrol said the wreckage was cleared up late tonight and no more bodies had been found.
JOHNSON said he was "fairly certain" of the identification of eight bodies. They were:
MR. and MRS. FRANK M. RYAN, 40, Los Angeles.
JAMES MICHAEL RYAN, 20, student at Loyola university of Louisiana.
JUDITH RYAN (a daughter), 18.
FRANKIE RYAN (son), 9.
Pullman Conductor E. K. EMMONS, believed from St. Charles, Mo.
Pullman Porter HARRY CHAMBERS, Lovejoy, Ill.
ROY RYAN, SR., Evansville, Ind. (Interstate Construction Company.)
MRS. ALEXANDER WEDDELL, Virginia House, Richmond, Va.
Six Remain Unidentified.
JOHNSON said the six remaining bodies had not been identified, but personal effects had been found belonging to the following:
Ambassador ALEXANDER W. WEDDELL, age 71.
MISS VIOLA ANDREWS, Richmond, Va., the WEDDELLS' maid.
MRS. ADELAIDE RYAN, wife of FRANK M. RYAN, Los Angeles.
MRS. HARRIET N. THOMPSON, 41, St. Louis, daughter of DR. JOHN P. MURPHY, physician for Katy railroad.
MISS JANE RADDATZ, about 40, San Fernando, Calif.
Corporal HUGH J. HANNAWAY, 24, of (3090 35th St.) Astoria, L. I., New York.
Passengers in the other cars on the train were not seriously injured. Only the rear wheels of the second Pullman of the front train were knocked off the track.
Colonel HUGH WAGGONER of the state highway patrol attributed the wreck to an apparent failure of block signals, but PAUL J. NEFF, chief executive officer of the Missouri Pacific, issued a statement saying the signals were in perfect order and that there was "probably flagrant negligence on the part of certain train employes."
Both Traveling Slowly.
Trainmen said both sections of "The Missourian" were traveling slowly in the snowstorm when the wreck occurred about 95 miles east of Kansas City. Five mail cars of the second train were derailed.
Bitter, subzero weather hampered removal of the bodies from the car. A bulldozer was used to pull the locomotive and the Pullman apart, and tonight workers still had not cleared the track for travel. Ambulances and doctors were delayed in reaching the scene by ice and snow on the highways.
NEFF issued this statement on the cause of the wreck:
"Reports received so far indicate there probably was flagrant negligence on the part of certain train employes, as this track is fully equipped with automatic block signals. It appears these signals were showing red, or stop, indication because of conditions brought about by the storm in this area and that the precautions called for by the rules under those conditions were completely disregarded."
A spokesman for the railroad explained that the rules referred to require that a train be brought to a stop when signals show red and that it proceed only with trainmen going ahead on foot. The collision would indicate that no trainmen were preceding the second train on foot, he said.
KELLY SCRUTON, a reporter for the Sedalia, Mo., Democrat, said, "the engine of the second section of the train tore into the rear of the first train, shoving bedrooms, drawing rooms and roomettes into a mass of steel and people as if the car had been in a metal press.
Crushed in 10-Foot Space.
"Bodies were crushed into a space not more than 10 feet."
The crash shot the front train 175 feet down the ice-coated tracks before it could stop.
"The train seemed to jump into the air," said J. H. GOLDEN, a porter on the first section. "Five persons were in my car, the second from the rear. All were shaken."
"After the impact I ran to the rear of my car. It was a horrible sight. I don't know what happened next."
Rescue crews, doctors and ambulances were delayed in reaching the scene by icy roads, covered with snow. The storm had disrupted telephone and telegraph communications and at first the only contact with the outside from here was through radio equipped state highway patrol cars.
Engineer F. C. BUTLER and Fireman U. S. PARKS, both of Jefferson City, Mo., escaped with minor injuries. Both were taken to a Sedalia hospital.
Others injured and hospitalized here were:
J. B. ROGERS, 3625 Chestnut, Kansas City, Mo., conductor of the second section, fractured left shoulder, and abrasions.
MRS. OLA SIEGEL, Jefferson City, Mo., back injury.
MRS. RUBIN J. DUMLER, Winfield, Kan., badly cut face.
FRANK COWAN, St. Louis, train porter, cuts and abrasions.
ULYSSES PARK, of University, Mo.
Joplin Globe Missouri 1948-01-02