The Hutchinson News Herald – October 11, 1949

Five Dead, One Missing in Wreck:  Rock Island Train Into Washout

Meade — A Chicago-bound Rock Island passenger train piled up in a washed-out road bed early Monday, killing five persons and putting 39 injured in hospitals.
    The latest victim in the pre-dawn wreck was Junior Mitchell of Tucumcari, N.M.  He died Monday afternoon at Epworth Hospital, Liberal.
    The other dead were identified as Mrs. Clarence Moon, 57, Liberal; Mrs. B.G. Frazier, 60, Decatur, Ill.; Joe Robinson, 62, Negro chef on the train, Los Angeles, and Joe Wade, Los Angeles, Negro crew member.
    A two-year-old girl was missing.  She was Crystal Lee Dutton, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Dutton of Port Huron, Mich.
    Another body was taken to Liberal, southwest of here, but the funeral home said it was a corpse being shipped on the train.
    Four cars and a diesel unit of the California to Chicago train, the Imperial, left the rails.  Two of the cars overturned and partly submerged in a water-filled ditch.
    The wreck occurred at 1:15 a.m. as the train, running late, moved across this rain-soaked southwestern Kansas countryside.
    Dave Sturdevant, engineer, and D.T. Chinn, fireman, saw the washout just before hitting it.  Their diesel unit broke lose and remained on the tracks with the exception of the two rear sets of wheels which hit the ties.
    The express car, dining car and two chair cars dove into the water which was 15 feet deep.  The dead were all taken from the chair cars except one from the dining car.
    Joe Klose, conductor, was sitting in a seat sorting over his tickets when the crash came.  He was injured when he was thrown into the end of the car.  he suffered a broken hip, a gash on the head and some abdominal injuries.  He is in serious condition.
    Betty Middleswart, telephone operator at Fowler, was aroused at 1:30 a.m., and she alerted the city of Fowler and help came from every part of the city.
    An emergency aid station was set up in the high school auditorium at Fowler.  There, passengers with minor injuries were treated.  Food also was served the wreck victims.
    Four other cars immediately behind the wrecked cars remained upright although they were pulled part way down the embankment.  The four end cars on the 12-car train didn’t reach the washout.
    Hilda Bliss of St. Louis, in charge of Red Cross operations at Fowler, said 94 uninjured passengers had been sent to Dodge City to continue their trips.
    The Red Cross cared for 30 persons, overnight, including some slightly injured, in the Fowler high school.
    The line at the scene of the wreck was expected to be cleared Tuesday.
    At the time of the accident, fields in the vicinity were covered with water following a downpour which brought as much as five inches of rain north of here.  Crooked Creek, which cuts back and forth across the tracks, ordinarily is a narrow stream.
Passenger and crew members treated in the Epworth hospital at Liberal and the community hospital at Fowler:

Mrs. H.J. Baird, El Paso, arm amputated, fractures.
H.J. Baird, El Paso, leg injuries.
Lelah Brown, Tucson, fractured pelvis.
B.G. Fraser, Decatur, Ill., fractured leg, ankle and hip.
Albert Gill, Clint, Tex., bruises and lacerations.
Mrs. Harry Goldstein, Rochester N.Y., head, back and leg injuries, condition serious.
Harry Goldstein, Rochester, minor injuries.
Mrs. Mary E. Gray, National City, Calif., minor injuries.
Joseph F. Klose, conductor, Pratt.
Mrs. Ruth Hibler, Liberal.
Mrs. Edna E. Maliszewski, East St. Louis, Ill., bruises and cut.
Ronald Olyer, Liberal, injured wrist.
Mr. Cincy Pinneo, Osawatomie.
Allan Williams, Tucumcari, minor injuries.
Jesse Eagan, Negro trainman, Los Angeles, minor injuries.
Mrs. Marilyn Haupt, Manchester, Conn.
Mrs. Evelyn Christ, Manchester.
Mrs. Rhoda Smith, Liberal, leg injury.
Mrs. Alvin Smith, West Allis, leg injuries.
Maxine Humphrey, Los Angeles, face lacerations.
Mrs. Erline Dunigan, Los Angeles.
Miss Dunigan, 11, her daughter.
Mrs. Geneta Person, Council Grove, head lacerations, bruises.
Hobart Penn, trainman, Los Angeles, minor ankle and back injuries.
B.B. Roberts, trainman, Los Angeles, back injury and lacerations.
Howard Pinkston, trainman, Los Angeles, back and neck injury.
John C. Hess, Indianapolis, injured foot.
Otto A. Dillon, Tucumcari,
Hazel Brown, Springfield, Mo.
Sammie Hernandez, Anthony, N.M.
Jubbie Hartzog, Clint, Tex.
Cpl. William C. Ferguson, Des Moines, Ia.
Mrs. Adam Kubik, Cleveland.
Mrs. Sophia Burkhart, Bellairs, O.
George Weber, El Monte, Calif.
Mrs. Willard Lubbers, Dysart, Ia.
Ronnie Lubbers, her son, same address.


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