New York, NY Tunnel Train Wreck, Feb 1891


The New Haven Local Ran Into a Line of Empty Cars at Eighty-fifth Street, New York, a Little After 7 o'clock, Dealing Death and Destruction -- Names of the Rescued -- Fire Breaks Out and Increases the Horror of the Calamity -- Vain Cries for Help -- A Furnace Raging Beneath Park Avenue.

There was a serious collision in the tunnel of the New York Central road at Eighty-fifth street, in New York, in the fog this morning. Six persons were killed, one was seriously wounded and several others slightly.
The deadly car stove was the chief factor in the holocaust, as the wreck took fire from the stoves before the wounded could be rescued, and they were burned to death.
The wrecked cars belonged to a shop train of nine passenger cars belonging to the New York, New Haven and Hartford road, the only line entering New York which retains car stoves. The cars were being drawn up to the storage yards at Mott Haven. There were twenty to thirty car cleaners on the train, among them one woman, going up to the Mott Haven yards, and one young newsboy. This train was making its way slowly through the dense fog when it was run into by train No. 10 of the New York, New Haven and Hartford line, a local train, running at full speed. The two rear cars of the shop trains were telescoped and the engine of No. 10 was badly smashed in and battered. The New Haven passenger and baggage cars were drawn back to the Grand Central station and the passengers were sent forward on the 8 o'clock express. A light New York Central engine on the down track ran into the wreck while it was on fire and traffic was blocked for two or three hours. The cause of the accident is still in dispute and an official investigation will be necessary to fix the responsibility.

Flames burst from the wreck immediately after the cars were telescoped, and the agonizing cries of the imprisoned and burning ones were heard for blocks on the streets above, bringing great crowds to the scene. Two alarms of fire and two ambulance calls were sent out at once and several engines quickly responded as well as ambulances from the Presbyterian hospital on Seventy-sixth street, and Bellevue.
Below in the tunnel the screams of the scalded and burning ones continued, and when the firemen got down to the sufferers an appalling sight met their view. Through smoke and fog flames were darting forth, and crushed and pinioned under debris indescribably were those who had been in the rear car of the shop train which had crunched fully one-half its length into the car ahead.

Superintendent McCoy of the New York Central road says he has no doubt that the signals were correct and that Fowler ran by them.
Under the engine with his legs burning and held down by a mass of snarled and twisted irons was the man HINCKE, who subsequently died in the hospital. “For God's sake let me die here,” he cried. The smell of burning flesh was sickening, but the fireman heroically fought their was to the man and finally released him, though he continued to beg for death. Streams from the engines were not long in quenching the flames, but the confusion attending the escape to the street of the uninjured or but slightly injured ones impeded the rescuers in their work, and it was many minutes before the others could be extricated from the wreck.

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