Frost, SC Train Wreck, Feb 1918


Most Disastrous Wreck in the State.


Train No. 42 From Spartanburg Ran Into No. 18 From Greenville.


No. 42 Had Stopped to Repair Air Pipe and Was Just Moving Off When No. 18 Smashed Into Rear Coach-Official Investigation Today-Responsibility Not Yet Fixed.

Twelve persons were killed and 38 injured, some very painfully, yesterday afternoon, when Southern train No 42 from Spartanburg crashed into the rear end of train No 18, operated between Columbia and Greenville. The wreck occurred near Frost, six and one-half miles from Columbia. Both trains were eastbound. The accident happened at 2 20 o'clock.

Train No. 18 was compelled to stop to repair a crossover pipe in the air-brakes. HARRY LOCKLAIR, flagman, 523 Senate Street, Columbia, was stationed up the road while the repair was in progress. With the pipe adjusted, the flagman was signalled in. Hardly had the train begun to move off before No. 42 bore down upon No. 18 and the terrific impact drove the rear steel coach of the front train more than half way through the wooden coach directly ahead.

Ten persons were killed outright. Two died after being brought to the Columbia Hospital. One, W. C. TOMLINSON, was pinned beneath the wreckage. Both legs were fractured and badly crushed. Though suffering terribly, he bore the pain with unusual fortitude and assisted in writhing himself about to help those extricating him from the debris. Mrs. SARAH L. JOHNSON of Columbia also died soon after being brought to the hospital. Of those injured, ten were women.

Responsibility for the wreck can not be determined until the inquest is held at noon today. Three possibilities were suggested yesterday afternoon.

One was that the flagman might have failed to leave a torpedo on the track to signal No. 42 of the close proximity of the train moving directly ahead.

Rules require that train No. 42 be held 10 minutes at Bookman. It is not known whether the train was kept in leash by the operator, that the proper "spacing" might be established.

Another factor which could have contributed to the wreck was the speed at which train No. 42 moved. Should this train have exceeded its limit, it would have been easily possible to get on the schedule of train No. 18, it was also pointed out.

First to See Train.

The fireman on the rear train said he was the first to discover the train directly ahead as his engine bore around the curve. He shouted to Engineer BRANCH LONG. The emergency brakes were applied, but the trains immediately collided and as the front train had begun to move off, the cars were driven possibly 150 yards before brought to a stop. The fireman on 42 jumped and escaped without injury. Engineer LONG had two ribs broken.

Railroad officials emphasized last night that the wreck was the worst on the Southern Railway system in 14 years. the last collision of worse consequences was at New Market, Tenn. in 1904, when more than 60 people lost their lives.

H. L. HUNGERFORD, general superintendent of the Southern Railway, with headquarters in Charlotte, came to Columbia last night and is following closely the reports of the tragedy.

WILLIAM MAXWELL, superintendent of the Spartanburg division, will conduct a thorough investigation today into the causes of the wreck in an effort to place the responsibility.

Immediately upon receipt of the news of the wreck, F. S. Collins, superintendent of the Columbia division, dispatched a train to the scene of the accident. Six surgeons gave immediate relief to the suffering. The injured were placed on the special and rushed to the hospitals, the train being driven directly to the Hampton Street crossing near the Columbia Hospital. Eighteen of the emergency patients were treated at that institution and ten were transferred to the Baptist Hospital. The dead were brought to Columbia one hour later, the car with the ten bodies arriving at the Gervals Street crossing at 5 23 o clock.

Few members of the train crews were injured. W. H. Gelston, conductor on train No. 42, JAMES LAWSON, baggagemaster, T W DREHER and W D. TENNANT, mail clerks, and the fireman were not hurt. Engineer LONG had two ribs broken.

J. O. MEREDITH, conductor of train No. 18, had the right leg fractured below the knee and the left hand lacerated. A feature which caused much comment was that not a wheel left the track under either train.

A troupe of 12 persons of the Red-Bath Chautauqua were en route to Camp Jackson for a week's engagement. Mrs. GREGORY, Independence, Kan., has a contusion of the skull; WARREN DAVIES, Chicago, both legs broken, hips hurt and internally injured; JACK HOUSTON of London, England, formerly of the British army and also of the American army, badly cut and bruised over the left eye and the left cheek bone crushed, possibly injured internally.

Dr. J. CLARKE BRAWLEY of Union was a passenger on train No. 42 from Spartanburg and was the only member of the medical profession on hand to relieve the wounded in the emergency. Dr. BRAWLEY did quite a bit of work for a while, fixing the injured so they could be transported to the hospital. Some primitive surgery was resorted to, in many instances the splinters from the smashed wooden work of the cars were used to hold the injured parts together until better accommodations were obtainable.

Saved by Staff.

J. L. BRICE of Woodward, Fairfield County, was also a passenger on the Spartanburg train, and thought that the engine had run off of the track at the first shock. Had been on a surveying trip a few miles farther up the road and was saved from serious injury by his transit staff, which he had over his shoulder and under the seat in front of him. When the shock occurred he was saved from being thrown by the presence of the staff across his body.

Mrs. JULIAN SMITH of 1002 Elmwood Avenue, Columbia, who was injured in the head, is a student at Draughon Business College. Mrs. SMITH was returning from a visit to her brother in Sedalia. She is a native of Arkansas.

S. L. BRODIE, chief of police at Springfield was taken to the hospital, but he insisted on going home. He complained of a hacking cough, supposed to have been caused by a blow on the chest. No amount of persuasion on the part of the attending physician could move Chief BRODIE to remain at the hospital. He left at 7.45 o'clock for his home.

Marshall A. LEAMAN, killed in the railroad wreck at Frost yesterday, was a Greenwood man, about 45 years of age, who was married and is survived by his widow, who was Miss NAN HAGOOD, and several children, one of whom is a traveling man. Mr. LEAMAN moved from Cross Hill to Greenwood about four years ago. He had been twice married. His nephew, WILLIAM LEAMAN, holds a position here with the Palmetto National Bank. His brother-in-law, T. B. COLEMAN, is a traveling man.

Aged Woman Dies.

Mrs. SARAH L. JOHNSON, who died from injuries in the wreck had made her home in Columbia 14 years, making her home with her daughter, Mrs. C. D. KNIGHT, 101_ Columbia Avenue. Her only other child is Mrs. LURA GUIN of Newberry, whom Mrs. JOHNSON had been visiting. She was 74 years old.

W. W. RICHARDSON, one of those killed instantly, married Miss MARY NANCE FAIR of Newberry. Mrs. RICHARDSON was in Newberry at the time the accident occurred.

M. A. LEAMAN, also among the dead, has a son, F. L. LEAMAN, with an aviation corps in Texas.

CAMERON MORRISON of Charlotte, N C, prominent member of the North Carolina bar and well known in North Carolina politics, is a brother-in-law of W. C. TOMLINSON, who died at the Columbia hospital.

OTIS BRODIE, the young man among the dead, was graduated from Furman University last year. He registered in Greenville, while a student at the university, and had been called to Greenville for physical examination for the army.

JOE KOPP, among the injured, is a student at Newberry College.

There were several soldiers on the train. These were among the first to tear into the demolished car and render all possible assistance. Two lieutenants and five enlisted man tendered valiant service.

ALBERT ATTISS, killed, operated an antique and novelty stand in Pinkussonn's Cigar Store.

P. FRANK BAXTER of Newberry, who lost his life in the wreck, was a contractor and builder and was on the way to Saluda, where he had the contract for the erection of a Methodist church. Mr. BAXTER was an elderman of Newberry, which place he had filled for several terms. He was the father of four children, three sons and one daughter. Mr. BAXTER was about 60 years of age and was originally from Shelby, N. C. He moved to Newberry about 1876 and had since resided there continuously. He was a member of the Methodist Church, and a Newberry friend speaking of him last night, said he was one of the most popular men in his home town. He was one of the leading undertakers in Newberry.

Six physicians were rushed to the wreck on the special train. These were Drs. JULIUS TAYLOR, W. M. LESTER, W. A. BOYD, T. M. DUBOSE, Jr., A. E. SHAW and GEORGE K. NELSON.

The hospital authorities handled the cases with marked orderliness and dispatch. The advent of the large number of patients caused not the slightest demoralization and in an incredibly short time all patients were treated.

The State, Columbia, SC 26 Feb 1918