Berea, OH Train and School Bus Wreck, Jan 1930

Train Crashes Into School Bus; Nine Little Children, Driver Killed at Crossing

Three Others Are Injured Near Berea, Ohio; Two May Die; Bodies Hurled Along Tracks

Vehicle Demolished By Impact; Cries of Victims Add to Horror of Scene; Tragedy Fourth of Kind in State in Three Weeks

CLEVELAND, Ohio, Jan 22. (A.P.)---The worst railroad crossing accident in Ohio in a year today killed nine small children and the driver of the bus in which they were riding, at Sheldon road, near Berea, Ohio, 15 miles from Cleveland. One other child was seriously injured.

Rushing toward Chicago, 45 miles and hour, a New York Central mail train struck the bus squarely in the middle. Wreckage and bodies were strewn along the tracks for 500 feet before the train could be stopped.

The bus driver had halted at the edge of the crossing and waited for a freight train to pass. A moment later he drove into the path of the mail train. There was a grinding of ripping metal and wood, and then the screams of dying and injured children. The identified dead:

DON TAYLOR, driver.
WILLIAM DAVIDSON, 10,
RITA ZELINSKI, 9,
VERNON DAVIDSON, 7,
EVELYN KALTENBACK, 7,
JACOB WALTERS, 12,
JUANITA WALTERS, his sister, 9,
DOROTHY ZELINSKI, 11,
VINCENT ZELINSKI, 6, brother and sister of RITA,
WILLIAM PASTORIK, 10.

The identified injured:

Ethel Davidson, 10, she has a chance to live.

Trucks and automobiles were commandeered and took the injured to Berea hospital and the dead to two morgues.

The scene of the accident was in a sparsely settled section, which, with a long, straight, level right of way, gives the trains a chance to make high speed.

Twenty-three children were said to have been in the bus, and it was possible that there were more dead and injured than were accounted for shortly after the crash.

Eight students at Berea high school had left the bus at their school just a few minutes before the vehicle was struck.

All of the children who were killed had been students in from the first to the sixth grades at the Brook Park school in a Cleveland suburb.

After the bodies of the dead and injured were picked up, the train crew, unable to do more, cleared the track of wreckage and resumed the trip. The train was number X-19, a mail run.

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Comments

my mother's memory

My mother, Esther, is 96. Last night she told me the story of this wreck. She and her step-brother were waiting nearby on Sheldon Road for another school bus to take them to the high school. She said they had been laughing about how thick the fog was. She also said that her family and neighboring families had complained for years about no warning at that crossing, but the railroad refused to install any "because the main crossing was so close."

The horror of this memory has haunted her ever since. Now that the line between past and present is porous for her, it is an increasingly disturbing memory that causes her to shake and sob.

12-26-2011