San Antonio, TX Train And Car Crash, Dec 1957
TRAIN-CAR CRASH KILLS 5.
WOMAN TRIES TO AVERT TRAGEDY.
DRIVER MAY HEVER HAVE HEARD TRAIN.
A train-car crash at Rittman Road and the M-K-T tracks in northeast San Antonio took the lives of five persons shortly before noon Saturday.
Police identified the dead as:
MRS. MARGARET HENTSCHELL, 25, of Houston, the wife of Jury Hentschell, a Fort Sam Houston soldier;
JOHN HENTSCHELL, 28, of Tomball, near Houston, brother of Jury Hentschell;
MRS. HETTIE HENTSCHELL, 25, wife of John, of Tomball;
JULIE ANNE HENTSCHELL, 11 months old, daughter of John and Hettie;
JOHN JOOST, 63, 325 Baltimore Avenue.
Critically injured was LEROY JOOST, 25, son of John Joost.
All of the victims were occupants of one car which was struck by the Texas Special, M-K-T passenger train enroute from San Antonio to Dallas and St. Louis.
No one aboard the train was injured, police said.
This accident, officers said, raises San Antonio's traffic death toll for the year to 59, one above last year's mark.
Police identified the engineer as J.C. Thomason, 68, of 330 Argo Avenue, who said the train consisted of two engines and ten cars.
The engineer, was charged with negligent homicide. Police said he signed bond and was allowed to proceed with the train.
Thomason told Police Patrolman Louis Brandt, who investigated the crash, of efforts by a woman motorist to avert the collision.
The engineer said as his train was approaching the crossing with whistle blowing and brakes applied, he saw the woman seated in her car, which was stopped at the crossing.
She was waving at the approaching car, Thomason said, attempting to attract the attention of the driver.
Despite her efforts, Thomason said, the car moved onto the tracks in front of the oncoming train.
Police were seeking the woman to obtain an account of the tragedy.
Other eyewitness accounts of the collision, Brandt said, were conflicting and contradictory.
Brandt said one woman declared she heard the engineer's whistle warning and a second declared he heard no whistle from the train.
Thomason, an engineer for 42 years, told Brandt the train was traveling in "open country" and was near the maximum speed limit of 60 miles an hour for that area.
Police quoted the engineer as saying he saw the car approaching the crossing from the west along Rittman Road and estimated the car's speed at 20 to 25 miles an hour.
At 1,500 feet from the intersection, Thomason began blowing warning blasts on the engine's whistle.
"The driver didn't hear me," Thomason told officers.
He said the car continued moving toward the crossing at the same slow speed.
Thomason said that when it became apparent the car was not going to stop at the crossing, he applied the train's brakes in an effort to avoid the collision.
The train carried 166 feet past the point of impact, Brandt said.
Brandt said he was unable immediately to determine who was the driver of the death car.
He said wreckage and bodies of the victims were strewn along a path 177 feet from the point of impact.
Brandt said his investigation indicated that all of the car's windows were closed and that the radio was playing.
He said he determined this because the radio switch was in the "on" position.
Brandt declared that the only item in the car which was left undamaged by the impact was the milk-filled bottle of JULIE ANN HENTSCHELL, infant killed in the crash.
San Antonio Express Texas 1957-12-29