31 January 2013

Tragedy Thursday - The Trotwood Grade Tragedy

Mr. and Mrs. Walter Kreitzer, of Trotwood, were instantly killed and their 4 year old son, Wilbur was perhaps fatally injured when their automobile was struck by through passenger train No. 20, at the Main Street crossing of the Pennsylvania railroad, at Trotwood about 5:30 Sunday evening.  They were returning home from a visit at the home of Mrs. Kreitzer's brother, Clarence Erbaugh, on the Union Road, seven miles southwest of Trotwood, when the accident occurred.
                                    Bodies Hurled Long Distance
   The automobile, a small Maxwell car, was struck squarely by the fast flying train.  Mr. Kreitzer's body was hurled throughout the air for a distance of nearly sixty five feet.  He was found beneath a section of an old fence, which had been torn away by the impact on the railroad embankment near the depot.  The body of his wife was found in the middle of Main Street, fully fifty yards from the crossing.  By her side lay the child.
                                       Child May Survive
   Mayor A.E. Black, who lives near the crossing, was the first to reach the scene of the accident.  Mr. and Mrs. Kreitzer were found to be dead.  The child was still breathing and was rushed to the office of Dr. W.C. Mendenhall, where at a late hour Sunday night, despite a fractured skull and possible internal injuries, it was said to have a chance for life.
                                      Repetition Of Xenia Tragedy
  The accident was strickingly similar to the grade crossing tragedy last Sunday, which snuffed out the lives of L.F. Creamer, of Osborn, general agent of the Tentania Insurance Company and Homer H. Hawkins, his brother-in-law, a prominent Greene County farmer.  Like the principals in the fatality Mr. and Mrs. Kreitzer were returning from a visit with relatives.
  The tracks, which cross diagonally, were obscured from view too, a building cutting off the view from automobilists approaching in Main Street.
                                Crossing Bell Ringing
   While the crossing bell was ringing and the warning shriek of the engine whistle rang out just before the crash came, the occupants of the ill fated automobile were apparently unaware of the approach of danger.  The rainy weather is believed to have been partially responsible for the accident.  The curtains were probably up, preventing Mr. Kreitzer, who was at the wheel, from hearing the warning notes, either of the bell or engine whistles.
                             Death Instantaneous
   From every appearance the victims never knew what happened.  Both were terribly mangled and death was probably instantaneous.  The machine in which they were riding was torn to pieces.  The body of the machine was found in Main Street, fully one hundred and fifty feet from the railway crossing.  The front wheels were found on the railroad embankment, beyond the depot.
                         Residents Hear Crash
  Mayor Black, who was first on the scene, said Sunday night that he heard the crossing bells ringing, followed by the sounding of the engine whistle.  "Then there came a terrible crash", he said. "and I knew something terrible had happened.  Rushing out into the street I found Mrs. Kreitzer and the child first.  Mr. Kreitzer's body was not found until later."
    The bodies were removed to A.W. Shafer's undertaking parlors, in Trotwood, to be prepared for burial.  Mr. Kreitzer, who was 30 years of age, was a son of Mr. and Mrs. William Kreitzer, of Bellbrook, and had been employed at the Swinger and Sollenberger plumbing establishment.  His wife, who was 25 years old, was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Erbaugh, who reside on the Union Road, several miles from Trotwood.
                  Coroner Investigates
   Coroner McKenny, who was called from Dayton to make an investigationn declared Sunday night that the accident was apparently unavoidable.  He said that from what he could learn the crossing bell was in good working order and that the warning of the engine whistle was also sounded as customary, when the train was approaching the crossing.  He said that the inclemency of the weather was mainly responsible for the accident.
                  Child's Skull Fractured
   "The little boy," Coroner McKenny said, "seems to have a good chance for recovery.  The most dangerous injury is a depressed fracture of the skull.  Internal injuries are also to be feared.  While the child may recover the outcome is still in doubt and cannot be determined definitely until it is found whether or not internal hurts were sustained by the shock."

**Dayton Journal Herald, 20 October 1913, Front page

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