Sunday, February 3, 2013

Train Kills Five Motorists

Four Chicagoans were instantly killed and one died later at the Burnham hospital in Champaign, from the result of an accident which occurred at the high road crossing just south of Del Ray, Ill, when the Ford touring car in which they were riding, was struck by passenger train No. 7, known as the "Millionaire Train."
The Dead.
William Hubner, 6613 Michigan Ave.
Gertude Hubner, his sister.
Miss Agnes Fitzmorris.
Miss Edna Peat.
Joseph Burns, 322 East Garfield Blvd.
Eye witnesses told the story of the terrible tragedy to a Record reporter, and it was without doubt one of the most awful sights that could be described.
On Way to Paxton.
Joseph Burns, son of Mr. and Mrs. James J. Burns of Paxton, and his friends had left Chicago during the morning for Paxton to visit with their relatives and to enjoy the 4th of July celebration. They were making the trip the new Ford touring car which Joe had just purchased. Witnesses to the accident saw them pass through Del Ray at a moderate rate of speed, saw them slow up as they approached the railroad crossing and saw the train when it crashed into the car. Mr. Burns, who was driving, did not see the train until it was right upon him, and he evidently figured that he did not have time to cross the tracks, for he turned the machine to the right and headed south down the rails with the view of getting to one side of the right-of-way before the train could reach him. He was unsuccessful in this, however, and the impact from the collision was so great that the pilot of the engine was completely torn away. The Ford touring car was driven ahead of the engine and thrown from the thirty foot embankment with such force that it rolled to the abutment of the railroad bridge which is nearly a hundred feet away. The car was struck so hard that it was a "wad" of twisted steel when it stopped rolling.
Victims Thrown Many Feet.
When the engine struck the car one of the occupants was thrown to the east side of the track for a distance of about sixty feet; one of the other victims was carried in the debris to the railroad bridge and the body dropped through the ties, falling within a few feet of the water. Mr. Burns and the other two friends were carried with the mass of wreckage and were thrown to the west side of the track. The head of one of the women was nearly severed, one had an arm cut off and Mr. Hubner's body was terribly cut and bruised. The only severe injury to Mr. Burns was a deep cut across his forehead, but his body was badly bruised in many places.
Miss Hubner Dies at Hospital.
The engineer of the train claims that he applied the air as soon as he saw that he was going to strike the car, and after the wreckage was cleared away and the broken parts of the pilot removed from the engine, Miss Hubner, who was still living, was placed aboard the train and she was taken to the Burnham Hospital at Champaign. A message at 7:30 o'clock stated that she had died without regaining consciousness.
A High Embankment.
The accident occurred at the first crossing south of Del Ray, which only a short distance north of Spring Creek and here the embankment is about thirty feet high, owing the rolling country. Although the crossing is not obstructed from view for several hundred feet to the north, the grade is quite steep, and with the speedy passenger trains approaching from that direction, it is not hard to see how an accident of this nature could be possible. We were told by eye witnesses to the accident that had the driver proceeded across the tracks at the rate which he was traveling, he might have succeeded in getting to safety. The sudden impulse, after seeing that he was going to be struck, was to pull the car to one side, and with only a few seconds more he might have accomplished his purpose.  --Paxton Record.

--Roberts Herald.  9 July 1919.

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