Knoxville, PA Street Car Wreck, Dec 1917

16 Killed as Wild Car, After Plunge Through Tunnel, Is Wrecked.

Passengers, Men, Women and Children, Scattered Along Roadway in Crash.

All Of 112 Aboard Suffer Injuries

Vehicle Turns Over on Side Piling Victims in Mass

Pittsburg, PA., Dec. 24.-Sixteen persons were killed and every one of the 114 persons on a Knoxville street car, was more or less hurt here late today when the car ran away in a tunnel which connect the south side business district with the South Hills. After a wild dash of almost a mile through the tube, the car emerged at Carson Street and turned over on its side. Hospital doctors said that a number of the injured could not recover.

The car, which was of the latest low floor, steel type, was packed with city bound shoppers when it left the station at the south end of the tunnel. A minute or two later the trolley is said to have left the wire, and the lights went out. At almost the same instant for some reason not yet determined, the motorman lost control and it dashed down the steep grade, gaining momentum with every instant as the wheels slipped along the wet rails.

The passengers were thrown into panic and their shrieks could be heard by person in Carson Street as the car shot out of the tube. A few feet from the mouth of the tunnel is a short curve but so terrific was the speed the speed the car had attained, that the wheels at this point left the track. The car instantly turned over on its side, piling the passengers in a struggling mass. It did not stop, but tearing along the sidewalk, struck a telephone pole. The roof was ripped off, and men, women and children were scattered along the roadway. Even then the wreck continued on its way and finally brought up in a little confectionery store near Smithfield street.

Early reports placed the number of dead at 17, but a careful canvas of the hospitals and the morgue showed that 16 had been killed outright, eight of whom were women, and one little girl. Some of the bodies were scarcely recognizable and identification proceeded slowly.

A statement issued by the Pittsburg Railway Company, which owns the Knoxville line, said the car “was of the modern and substantial construction equipped with every modern device for the safety of the passengers. We have been unable yet to learn just how the accident happened, but have started a searching investigation to ascertain the facts.”

The death list was increased to 16 late tonight when two of the injured died in hospitals. Many of those who escaped alive from the wrecked car are so seriously injured that they probably will die. The work of identifying the dead progressed slowly. It was midnight before a list could be obtained. Of the sixteen dead, nine were women, one child and six men. The bodies of two women lay unidentified at the morgue at this hour. The death list follows:

WILLIAM BOLITHO, 30, Knoxville.
SARAH KIRKHAM, 12, Pittsburg.
WESLEY JONES, 21, Knoxville.
HOWARD E. FORD, 21, Rankin, P.
MRS. JOSEPH TANNEY, 31, Knoxville.
MRS. ALLA SHERIDAN, 30, Knoxville.
FRANK HERBERT, 50, Altoona.
MRS. MABEL BRECHT, 30 Knoxville.
MRS. ROSA M. VERLINDER, 36, Pittsburg.
MRS. CAROLINE FISHER, 32, Knoxville.
Two unidentified women.

The Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY 25 Dec 1917