Brooklyn, NY Train Wreck, Aug 1897


Saves Lives of Passengers of a Brighton Beach Train at Risk of His Own.


Catches Five Boys Wedging Stones in an Opened Switch - Hampered by Two Prisoners, He Works as the Train Approached.

Policeman FARRELL of the Twenty-second Police Precinct, Brooklyn, working under great difficulties, saved the lives of many passengers of a Bright Beach Railroad train last night. He did this at the risk of his own life and the lives of the two boy prisoners, whom he had caught in an attempt to wreck the train.

Several times recently large stones have been found on the Brighton Beach track near Eastern Parkway, and the police of the Twenty-second Precinct were watching. Capt. LEVY yesterday detailed Policeman Farrell on the case, and the policeman, in citizen's clothes, arrived at the spot at about 6 o'clock in the afternoon. For some time he
lurked around the place without seeing anything suspicious, but at last five tough-looking boys, ranging from thirteen to sixteen years of age, cautiously approached the bridge at the Eastern Parkway. The policeman hastily concealed himself and waited.

When the boys reached the track they stopped and looked around in every direction to make sure that they were unobserved. Apparently the result of their scrutiny was satisfactory, for they at once set to work. They first opened the switch near the bridge, and then got three stones, which the wedged in at the open frog of the switch. This done, they got two larger stones, weighing thirty pounds, and put one on each of the rails.

Farrell stole up to where the young wreckers were working, and was almost upon them before they saw him, and then one boy, catching sight of him, gave the alarm and ran off. The gang immediately scattered in all directions, but two of them were caught.

The policeman then set to work to remove the stones and replace the switch. The two boys squirmed and struggled, and he found it almost impossible to get at the track without letting them go. At last he lay face down on the track, compelling the boys to lie down with him. Then putting an arm around each of their necks, he dug up the stones
with his hands. The stones were so tightly wedged in that he had to work for several minutes before he could make any impression.

Just as he was digging up the last stone the tracks began to shake, and the rumble of an approaching train was heard. the boys struggled and screamed, but Farrell worked away like a madman. At last, by the most strenuous exertions, he got the stone out and flung it aside just as the train was almost upon him. The engineer, when about twenty-
five feet away, saw the writhing group, and made a desperate attempt to slow up, but in vain, and the policeman had barely sprung from the track with his prisoners when the train thundered by.

At the station house the boys gave their names as WILLIAM MCCAULEY, thirteen years old and EDWARD CAMPBELL, sixteen years old, both of 39 Little Street, Brooklyn. Campbell is an undersized, weazen-faced lad, who does not look more than twelve years old, and his companion is not much larger. The police of the Second Precinct, in which the boys live, say that both have given them a great deal of trouble. The boys
refused to give their parents' names, or any other information, and stubbornly denied their guilt.

The train had six cars, all filled with people. The attempt was planned for the very hour in which the train was sure to be well filled with people returning to the city for dinner after a day's outing at the seaside.

The New York Times, New York, NY 30 Aug 1897