Rockport, NJ Train Disaster, Jun 1925 - List of Injured; Survivor Stories

36 Die; 71 Hurt as Train Wrecks

Victims Are Tortured by Steam Scald

Coach Piles on Coach in Fatal Heap on Lackawanna.

Was Special Train

Prosperous Former Immigrants, En Route Abroad, Victims.

By the Associated Press.
Hackettstown, N.J., June 16.-Thirty-six are dead, thirty-six in a critical condition and at least thirty-five more are suffering from injuries received early Tuesday, when four cars and the engine of a seven-car special train on the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad were derailed and piled upon one another at Rockport, two miles west of here.

One hundred and eighty-two passengers, emigrants of a former day, who had become prosperous in the great corn belt and were on their way to visit homelands across the sea, were hurled into the maelstrom of death and injury as coach pounded upon coach and scalding steam from the bursting engine tortured the victims.

The train left Buffalo, N.Y., Monday at 6 p.m. The train’s entry into New Jersey was heralded by a violent thunderstorm, a storm that weighed a gavel over the tracks at the Rockport crossing, into which the train plunged as it gained momentum for the rise ahead.

Engine is Derailed.

The engine plowed over the ties for 150 yards before it struck a switch and left the tracks.

Two day coaches and a Pullman were piled on top the engine as it toppled over. One other Pullman car was derailed and three remained upright.

By automobile, special train and ambulance the injured were taken to Easton (Pa.) General Hospital the Warren County Hospital at Phillipsburg, Morristown Memorial Hospital at Morristown and Dover General Hospital at Dover.

Eighteen of those taken to Easton are dead. Morristown reported two deaths. Dover five and seven bodies are in the morgue at Hackettstown.

Gives the Alarm.

August Fox was the first man on his feet after the wreck, followed by Henry Steffens, 60; Carl Engle and Reinhart Tscheke, all of Chicago, and all more or less injured. They labored heroically until help arrived from Hackettstown, pulling dead and injured from the twisted steel cars.

Riding above the rumble and thunder and lashing of the storm the crash of the wreck awakened Mrs. Duncan Dunn, who lives at the State game farm, about 500 yards distant. She communicated with Hackettstown over badly crippled wires, arousing physicians, who in turn sent emergency calls to surrounding hospitals. All the dead and injured, with the exception of the train crew are from Chicago and vicinity.

Death List.
The dead include:
GEORGE TAULE, Chicago.
MRS. AUGUSTA ISIMAN, Chicago.
JACOB SCANLON, trainman of Easton.
FRED LOOMIS, engineer, Scranton, Pa.
CARL HAEN, fireman, Scranton, Pa.
A young girl and two unidentified women.
HELEN WAGNER, 9.
MARTIN HENIG JR., 12.
FRANK BENDICH, 50.
MARY CINK, 40.
MRS. ANTONIO BERNHARDT.
MRS. BARBARA SAHRNER.
MRS. BARBARA FARMER.
MRS. GEORGE BRECKNER.
MRS. ANTHONY ERNST.
MRS. LOUIS TRIKE.
MARTIN HENIG SR.
EDWIN BRUNNER JR.
MRS. WILGEMINER.
PHILIP SHUSTER.

Among the seriously injured all from Chicago and Elkton, Ill., in the Easton, Pa., hospital are Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Brunner and their three children, Mrs. Elizabeth Wungelmeindt and 9-year-old daughter. Irene; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Sauer, Antonio Ernst, Mrs. Elsie Henig, Oscar L. David, Reinhold Teskhe, Mrs. Josephine Schmidt, Helen Kerling, Mrs. Janette Ferguson, Henry Steffins, Joseph Laforge, Rudolph Totche, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Bernhardt, Mrs. Mary Zink, Charles Stock, Mrs. Theodore Ernst, Clara Nestleberger, Mrs. Hilda Staehnke, Phillip Schuster, William Muenckenhen, Mrs. Gun Rotterman, John Niegel, Mrs. Sophie Finninger and Martin Heineg.

Injured at Morristown included: Mrs. Barbara Farmer, Mrs. F. Beechneer and Mrs. Annie Myers, all of Chicago.

The critically injured at Dover General Hospital include: Catherine Wilgermein, Mrs. Catherine Kerling, Carl Gantz and Hans Toske.

Survivors Set Sail.
By The Associate Press.

New York, June 16.-Eager to see their homeland again but shaken and saddened by the train wreck which claimed fifty-seven of their companions in dead and injured, 125 Germans from the west sailed Tuesday on the U.S. liner Republic from Hoboken.

Rescued from the horror which ensued when their special train from Chicago was wrecked before dawn near Rock Port, N.J., survivors of the homeward bound party were rushed to Hoboken in another special.

All had graphic tales to tell of their experiences while the liner waited for possible late additions to the fortunate saved.

To Mrs. E.B. Haaker of Park Ridge, Ill., a trained nurse who was on the train, many owe their lives. With her first aid kit Mrs. Haaker set up an impromptu hospital in the observation car. Mrs. Lackin R. Deue and Mrs. Freda Metzger of Chicago assisted her.

Trained Nurse Heroine.

Mrs. Haaker was traveling with her husband and a friend. Frederick Oberheid of Chicago. All three were awakened by the crash and by the screams of a member of the train crew who ran through the rear cars with terribly scalded hands, screaming, “For God’s sake, somebody help me!”

Still in her night clothing Mrs. Haaker dressed the man’s hands while her husband and Oberheld hurried ahead, improvised stretchers and brought many of the injured to the observation car. Sheets were torn up for use as bandages and the emergency hospital force worked for hours to relieve the agony of the scalded.

“I could hear, it seemed, a thousand people screaming,” said Mr. Haaker in describing the crash, “and, through their voices, the roar of the escaping steam.

“When we came near the engine the sight was overwhelming. The first two day coaches had been telescoped and were ground together in a mass of wood and steel, and some passengers in the first coach had been thrown bodily into the coal tender. The third coach had ridden up over these two and was lying squarely on top of the engine. The engine’s steam pipes had broken and a fog of steam was pouring into the car perched on top.

“We could see hands waving and then falling back into the car. Those in the tender who were unable to get out because of the car on top of them were lying close against the coal in the hope of avoiding the blistering steam. We could do very little until the flow of steam slackened. When we pulled them out those who were still conscious screamed with the pain. I saw at least twelve dead and twenty-five of those treated were so badly scalded that they will probably die.”

Wanted Hand Cut.

Mrs. Annie Jollie, 55 years old, of Chicago, told how she was hurled from her berth amid a shower of glass. Mrs. Dorothy Joy, in the berth opposite, helped her toward the door of the car.

“I saw a poor woman running toward me distracted,” said Mrs. Jollie. “Her hand, held high, was nearly severed just above the wrist. ‘Get scissors and take this off,’ she gasped. Instead I tore my skirt and wit a piece of wreckage made a first aid tourniquet, stanched the flow of blood and led her to a country doctor who was doing fine service.

“I saw women dig a child out of the wreckage and I helped farmer boys dig out a woman with our bare hands. My memory got hazy then and I don’t remember much more.”

Miss Ruth Zitzewitz of Chicago was thrown from her seat but escaped serious injury. She told of seeing the mangled body of a baby taken from the debris. John Kwohl, 61 years old, and his wife, although shaken up, helped in the rescue work. Otto Bauer of Chicago said he slept through it all until his wife awakened him.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 17 Jun 1925