Brooklyn, NY Train Wreck, Feb 1921



Hempstead Express Crashes Into Local in Brooklyn.


Official Investigation of Cause of Wreck to Be Begun Tomorrow.


Police Halt Wrecking Crews From Work Till Photographs Are Taken.

Fifty person were injured, fifteen of them seriously, in a wreck on the Long Island Railroad at Crescent Street and Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, at 9:35 last night, which was marked by the remarkable escape of passengers and crew from death.

The right arm of William Van Twistern of 2,053 Washington Avenue, the Bronx, was torn off and he was removed unconscious to St. Mary’s Hospital, where he was expected to die.

A five-car express train bound from Hempstead to the Flatbush Avenue station, Brooklyn, crashed into the middle of a seven-car local from Jamaica bound in the same direction. The local was cut clean in two and some of the cars were hurled from the rails and badly crumpled. The forward end of the express was derailed and the railroad right of way and the adjacent roadways were strewn with glass, bits of seats and battered baggage.

The towerman at the crossing where the local, after having stopped at the Autumn Avenue station, was passing over to the express track, asserted to the police that a red signal was set against the local train.

Edmund Costello of 4,640 Atlantic Avenue, Richmond Hill, Queens, motorman of the local train, was locked up early this morning on the charge of felonious assault after various officials had investigated the accident. It was only said that the evidence showed not only that the red light was set against Costello when he took his train onto the express track, but that the rails of the switch were bent in such a fashion that they proved the switch had been set against the local and it had forced its way.

Whether Costello offered any explanation or whether he admitted that the signal was set against him and that he ignored or failed to see it, could not be learned pending the completion of the immediate examination of witnesses. At the Chief Dispatcher’s office in Jamaica, it was said, however, that no possible mechanical failure of the apparatus could have accounted for the accident. There was more than one light, it was said there, so that if one failed to show red another could be counted upon.

Costello was blamed for the accident by Charles H. Risley, Superintendent of Traffic of the Electric Division of the Long Island Railroad, in a statement to Assistant District Attorney Reuben Wilson. Mr. Risley, who dictated the statement to a stenographer, said:
“The signal block was set against 3053, the local train. The block was in a clear position for 2755, the express train. The motorman of 3053 pulled out against the red block, and the motorman of 2755 realized the fact when he was just east of Railroad Avenue.”

“Train 2755 ran into the end of the third car of 3053. The conductor of 2755 was D. D. Brower and the motorman was Thomas Moore. The conductor of 3053 was W. J. Doran and the motorman was E. Costello.

“The express had the inside track. The local had the outside track. The signal was set clear for the express. The third, fourth and fifth cars of the local were damaged, and the second and third cars of the express. The tower where the signal was set is half way between Crescent Street and Railroad Avenue.”

Costello was not injured. Thomas Moore of 57 Bryant Avenue, Jamaica, motorman of the express, jumped after setting his emergency brake, when he saw the crash was inevitable, and escaped with only bruises.