Waseca, MN Auto And Train Collision, Sep 1959



Waseca, Minn. (AP) - A freight train rammed a car here today, killing a mother and her six children on the way to school.
A school patrol boy was injured. He was struck by debris from the car and a fragment imbedded in his back.
MRS. IRENE ZIMMERMAN, 39, died about three hours after the accident. Five of her children were killed outright in the crash and the sixth died a few moments later, just after reaching a hospital.
MRS. ZIMMERMAN'S husband, James, was hospitalized for shock after a priest told him of the tragedy. The six boys and girls who died were the only children of the farm couple.
"It only sounded like a small thud," said Dean Fleming, who heard the crash from his nearby store. "It sounded like somebody dropped something on the floor."
"When I went outside, the train had thrown the station wagon up against a loading platform and box cars."
In the hospital before she died, MRS. ZIMMERMAN moaned, "Help me, help me."
The deaths carried the Minnesota highway toll to 405 compared with 475 on this date last year.
Dead at the scene were MICHAEL, 10; CONSTANCE, 8; BARBARA, 7; JIMMY, JR., 5; and JANICE, 2.
KATHRYN, 13, died shortly after reaching a Waseca hospital.
ROBERT SZYSKA, about 12, the school patrol boy, was standing near the crossing and was struck by fragments of the Zimmerman car. Hospital attendants said the child suffered a broken leg.
Mrs. Zimmerman was driving to Sacred Heart Catholic School, less than a block from the accident scene. Several classmates of the Zimmerman children saw the crash from the school grounds.
The school principal, a nun, said "The students were quite upset. For a while they milled around, almost in shock. After about two hours, they started to calm down."
"It was terrible," Deputy Sheriff Don Eustice said. Bodies of two of the children were thrown out of the car and were lying on siding tracks.
The crossing is at the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway depot in the heart of this southern Minnesota city 70 miles south of the Twin Cities.
The M. and St. L. freight struck the car, a late model station wagon, and hurled in 100 feet. The car was rammed against a depot deck and a standing freight car on the siding.
There are flashing warning lights at the crossing, but there was no word whether the signals were operating.
The Zimmermans farm is four miles east of Waseca.

Winona Daily News Minnesota 1959-09-11