Syracuse, NY Overpass Collapse Causes Train Wreck, Aug 1957

Man Killed in Park St. Train Wreck

Overpass Collapses As Freight Piles Up; Auto Traffic Jammed

By Richard Long

A New York Central signalman was killed as 34 railroad cars jumped the tracks and collapsed the Park Street overpass yesterday, snarling weekend highway traffic into a mammoth jam.

Workmen were removing debris of the 1 million wreck this morning, and it was not determined whether more than one victim was trapped under the tons of freight cars and ripped up tracks.

Traffic still was being rerouted this morning. New York Central officials estimated wreckage could not be cleared for 72 hours.

Railroad wrecking cranes arrived this morning, and bulldozers from the S. J. Groves and Co., the highway arterial route contractor, began leveling the site. Tons of wreckage were shoved out of the tracks by bulldozers. A fire department pumper was called to supply water for the boilers of the cranes.

The signalman, Salem La Hood, 62, of 84 E. Genesee St., Auburn, was crushed to death beneath tons of wrecked cars spilled coal and twisted steel.

A wooden frame tower house in which La Hood was stationed was ripped from its foundation and tossed into a mass of splintered wood down an embankment 30 feet away.

As far as is known now, no one else was injured.

The accident happened between 5:15 and 5:20 p.m. at the peak of the Sunday traffic hour, creating traffic jams in the Liverpool area and tying up the main freight line of the railroad. Thousands of spectators were attracted to the scene. Traffic had to be rerouted over the Old Liverpool Rd. to Buckley Rd.

Liverpool buses of the Syracuse Transit Corp. had to be rerouted today. All buses bound for the village will run on a half-hour schedule.

Outbound buses for Liverpool will go out N. Salina street to Wolf street, Seventh North street, Buckley road, Old Liverpool road to the village. Inbound buses will return by the reverse route.

Outbound buses will operate at 5:05 a.m., 5:35 a.m., 6:05 a.m., 6:30 a.m. and every half hour for the rest of the day until the final one at 12:30 a.m.

Inbound buses will start at 5:50 a.m., 6:15 a.m. and every half hour until the last bus leaves Liverpool at 12:55 a.m.

Railroad officials believed the accident was caused by a burned out journal box on a set of freight car wheels, or a broken axle.

Two automobiles narrowly escaped from beneath the bridge as it fell. The 106-car train apparently "buckled" as it went over the bridge. Most of the derailed cars were gondolas loaded with coal. Cars and coal were spilled in all directions.

Wheels Fly

Witnesses said they saw train wheels flying in the air, and then the bridge wobbled and crashed. A crane from DeWitt railroad yards removed enough of the wreckage so that La Hood's body could be extricated. Firemen under District Chief Robert E. Clapper had dug into the debris to locate La Hood's body.

Giant cranes from DeWitt, Rochester and Rensselaer were ordered to the scene. All three tracks of the main freight line between Solvay and DeWitt were ripped up, and all railroad communication in Central New York was interrupted briefly.

Railroad officials said freight trains will have to be rerouted through the passenger lines in the city, and this was expected to slow passenger service.

Continued