Blairsville, PA Passenger Trains Collide, June 1926



Crack Pennsylvania Railroad Trains in Awful Accident in Westmoreland County; Four Investigations Under Way; Takes of Heroism and Sacrifice Told By Rescue Doctor; Train Crews Praised.

Pittsburgh, Pa., June 17 (AP) -- The broken forms of fifteen men, women and children, eleven of them passengers, lay in morgues in Westmoreland County towns tonight, mute testimony of the wreck of two fast Pennsylvania railroad passenger trains, the Cincinnati Limited and the Washington Express, near Blairsville intersection, last midnight.
Fourteen others, a majority of them passengers were at Johnstown and Latrobe hospitals, bearing the marks of the appalling disaster. Five were in a critical condition. Many others, less seriously hurt when the limited ploughed into the rear end of the halted express, were able to continue their journey on special and regular trains.
At the scene of the crash, wrecking crews continued through the day the work of clearing the main lines and replacing more than 100 feet of rails, ripped out when the limited, hauled by two giant locomotives, cut its death dealing path into the express sleepers. The two engines were reduced to scrap and three sleepers and a club car became a mass of twisted steel, ripped assunder as if made of paper.
List Of Dead.
The following is a revised official list of the dead:
Trainmen: W. S. GORDON, Derry, Pa., engineer of the first locomotive hauling the Cincinnati Limited.
H. L. HOLLINGSWORTH, Greensburg, Pa., GORDON'S fireman.
E. A. McCONNELL, Altoona, Pa., engineer of second limited locomotive.
A. McLEAN, New York City, baggage master of the limited.
Passengers: EDWIN G. DONAGHAY, Pittsburgh.
T. F. FARRELL, Orange, N. J.
C. S. BOWMAN, Columbus, Ohio, General Agent of the Erie Railroad.
DR. C. B. CARTER, Pittsburgh, Mellon Institute Research Expert.
A. R. DINSMORE, of Moundsville, W. Va.
PETER SPANOS, Massilion, Ohio.
MRS. WM. BROOKE DUNWOODY of Wilkinsburg, Pa.
BETTY, aged 4, and FRANCES, aged 6, daughters of MRS. DUNWOODY.
THOMAS L. PORTER, Washington, Pennsylvania.
CLAUDE SMILES, Cincinnati, Ohio.
J. A. KELLY, New York City.
The five reported in a critical condition are:
GEORGE POWELL, Pittsburgh, fractured shoulder, lacerations, shock.
J. S. CROWINK, New York City, fractured pelvis and broken arm.
MRS. S. E. BRYAN, Owentown, Ky., leg amputated.
RALPH H. JONES, Cincinnati, lacerations, bruises and shock.
CARL RUSSELL, Rutherford, N.J.
MRS. S. E. BRYAN, Owentown, Ky.
JOSEPH WISE, New Philadelphia, Ohio.
ZEHA STEED, Washington, D.C.
W. S. McCONNELL, fireman, Altoona, Pa.
H. R. EICHEL, Richmond, Va.
P. R. GERAGOCIAN, Pittsburgh.
J. R. ALEXANDER, Nashville, Tenn.
MRS. J. R. ALEXANDER, Nashville, Tenn.
MRS. H. A. HAUXHURST, Cleveland, Ohio.
L. R. BRYANT, Pamplin, Va.
Among the dead was GORDON, engineer on the first limited locomotive and his fireman, N. L. HOLLINGSWORTH, who, according to Pennsylvania railroad officials ran by flare signals and torpedoes, set by the flagman of the express to guard his train while a broken hose connection was repaired.
By tomorrow, it was expected that four investigations of the disaster, county, state, interstate commerce commission and railroad, would be underway.
Survivors of the wreck, in relating their experiences, all agreed that the trainmen and many uninjured passengers worked heroically before the arrival of relief trains to render aid to the stricken. The scene was described as one of utter confusion a few minutes after the crash. Women and children, trapped in the dark depths of the wrecked cars, screamed for help. The Cleveland sleeper in which a majority of the fatalities occurred, was bespattered with blood. In one berth was found a mother and her two small daughters, their lives crushed out.
Heroism did not rest alone with those physically fit. FARRELL, the New Jersey man, listed among the dead, drew his last breath as he thought of the welfare of others. His story, the outstanding recital of the wreck, was told by Dr. William Bentz.
Making his way through a telescoped car Dr. Bentz said he heard a man groaning in a lower berth. Nearby a woman was shrieking for help, her foot caught under a piece of steel. Several others seriously hurt were making a loud outcry.
"From experience," continued the physician, "I knew that the person making the deep groans was probably worse off than those who were shrieking and I managed to draw aside the curtain. A man, his face ghastly white, was bleeding from several wounds and was suffering from internal injuries. He looked at me and shook his head while I hastily examined his maimed body. I asked his name. He told me he was FARRELL of East Orange, N. J., and I shall never forget the name nor the voice in which he said:"
"It's no use, doctor, it's no use. I'm about through and you can't do me any good. Go and help these other people, thanks but go and help them. You can do them some good but no man can help me now."
Meantime Alexander Ditman, of Blairsville, rescued one of the woman and uninjured passengers were assisting the less fortunate.
"Again FARRELL waved me away," Dr. Bentz said. "I never saw such heroism in the face of death. During all this time all was confusion and we were struggling in the dark, first to get the victims to the light and the aid and then to place them where we could give them professional aid with the few facilities we had at hand."
"Blankets were dragged out and placed upon the ground and we lifted down the wounded as rapidly as we could. We carried the dying man out after the women had been rescued, but when we laid him down there in the open meadow beside the track and placed a blanket at his head, he passed away."

Plattsburg Sentinel New York 1926-06-18