This is a long and detailed article about a local trolley accident.
THE BROCKPORT REPUBLIC
Thursday, July 22, 1915
BROCKPORTERS IN BAD WRECK
ONE MAN KILLED AS RESULT OF TROLLEY SMASH-UP
Motorman Claims to Have Been in Stupor. Those Injured.
Quite a number of Brockport people were on the ill-fated 1:17 B. L. & R. car out of Brockport which ran into the work car about two miles west of the Rochester City Line about 1:40 o’clock last Thursday afternoon. Motorman Roy Clark and Conductor John Clark, two brothers from Lockport were in charge of the car. Of the Brockport people who were unfortunate enough to be on the car Mrs. Charles Smead, Mrs. W. S. Steele of Clarkson, and P. J. Willson, editor of the Brockport Democrat were the most seriously injured. All are able to give vivid accounts of the wreck.
It seems that Motorman Roy Clark had stopped the car and reported for orders at South Greece. After that time the car gained in speed until it reached a rate of from thirty-five to forty miles an our. Nothing was thought of such speed until passengers observed that the motorman paid no attention to a flagman who had been sent out from the work train to stop the limited. The flagman was Conductor L. R. Demond of the repair train and he had proceeded 1,000 feet west from it to signal and was standing in the middle of the track. When the limited failed to slack its speed as it approached, the flagman jumped from the track just in time to avoid being struck. At the same time to attract the attention of the motorman he frantically threw the flag which was attached to a heavy stick against the car hoping ti throw it through the window. It fell short of the mark striking against the lower part of the car.
In the meantime within the car, passengers realized that the motorman had disregarded the signal and they frantically pounded on the window of the locked vestibule at the same time calling loudly to attract his attention. He paid no attention, however, and sat with his head bowed as if reading or asleep. According to reports of general manager, Joseph P. Barnes at the coroner’s inquest held this week, Motorman Clark in St. Mary’s Hospital had given him the impression that he had fallen into a stupor and had no recollection of anything that occurred after reporting at South Greece until a second before the crash came. Witnesses state that he was seen to straighten up quickly after which he threw off the power with his left hand, stooped hurriedly and looked back through the car and then jumped. Passengers had by this time seen that the collision was inevitable and those in the smoking compartment had hastily made their way through toward the back of the car.
The work train was made up of two flat bottom trailer cars with the motor car which was equipped with a tower between them. Members of the work crew saw the approaching car and knowing the collision could not be avoided, called to each other to jump. When the limited struck the trailer the body fairly left the tracks and climbed on top of the trailer leaving the front trucks on the track. James Gray of Albion, the lineman in charge of the repair who was working on the trolley bracket, had not heeded the warning of the others about jumping and when the collision came, he was thrown to the ground and suffered internal injuries and a fractured skull which caused his death after he had been removed to the Hahnemann hospital.
On the passenger car the shock threw men, women and children from their seats and tor away the front of the car besides piling the seats from the smoker nearly into the center of the main compartment. Some were pinned underneath the wreckage and the situation was made more serious by the fact that broken wires quickly caused a blaze which made considerable headway and threatened the lives of those who were unable to escape. When most of the eighteen passengers had been accounted for outside the burning car, it was discovered that Mrs. Charles Smead was missing and Rev. S. T. Hooper of Jersey City, who has been supplying the pulpit of Christ Episcopal Church in Albion, with Edward Henrietta, a Rochester man, returned to the car and found her pinned under some seats which had already begun to burn. They hastily removed the debris and assisted her from the car where she regained consciousness. Her jaw was dislocated, several teeth were knocked out and the force of the blow had driven her lower teeth through her lip. Besides this her body was a mass of bruises and it was feared she had suffered internal injuries. Outside she found herself beside Mrs. W. S. Steele of Clarkson. Mrs. Steele’s nose had been badly broken and she also had severe bruises which were thought to be indicative of internal injuries. While they were sitting on the grass beside the tracks, someone called to the crowd telling them to get out of the way of falling wires and Mrs. Steele and Mrs. Smead arose hastily and started to run out of the path of the flashing-wire above their heads. Mrs. Steele tripped and fell and Mrs. Smead also lost her footings and fell over her, both striking hard against the crushed stone. It was not long before the limited car was a mass of flames, no facilities being obtainable to put the fire out and the blaze spread to the motorman’s cab of the adjoining car. Within a few minutes an eastbound New York Central passenger car came along and Conductor John Clark, (who had been sitting at the rear when the crash came, it is stated) had the steam train flagged the injured passengers transferred and taken to the New York Central station in Rochester where they were met by St. Mary’s Hospital and Hahnemann Hospital ambulances.
Mrs. Smead, Mrs. Steele and Miss Russell, Mrs. Steele’s sister, were taken to the Hahnemann hospital. P. J. Willson who was in the rear of the car when the collision occurred was thrown to the floor of the car and made unconscious. He was assisted from the car with other passengers but by the time he reached Rochester, he had recovered somewhat and objected to being taken to the hospital and he was soon able to come to his home where he has been suffering considerable from the effects of his injuries and the shock. Mrs. Smead and Mrs. Steele were brought to their homes in Brockport and Clarkson on Monday, but are still suffering from their injuries.
An investigation of the accident has been commenced but it is probable that the hearing will not be continued until the recovery of Motorman Clark. A preliminary brought out the fact that Motorman Clark’s record had always been a clean one; that he was not a drinking man and that he had not been spending the night previous in any manner that should have unfitted him for his day’s work. He had taken a short auto trip accompanied by his father and brother returning home early and had apparently had a good night’s rest. Whether the stupor into which he claimed he had fallen was caused by the heat or from a shock, will probably be determined when he is well enough to submit to an examination by physicians.
The most severely injured persons besides those mentioned from Brockport were Rev. S. P. Hooper, Mrs. Hooper and little daughter Muriel, George Banker and James Ray of Albion, Miss Helen Garner of Knowlesville and Bessie Russell of Gainesville.