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1921 - EIGHT DEAD; 25 HURT IN CAR CRASH. TROLLEYS MEET HEAD ON NEAR HIGHBRIDGE, CONN.

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EXPLOSION AND FIRE FROM GASOLINE ADDS TO CASUALTY LIST -- 5-GALLON CAN CARRIED IN FRONT VESTIBULE OF CAR -- FOUR OF VICTIMS CHILDREN.

Shelton, Conn., Feb. 22. - Eight persons were burned to death and 25 injured this afternoon when two trolley cars collided head-on on the Bridgeport - Shelton line near High Bridge, in the southern part of this town.

The Dead:
MILTON CHERITREE of Shelton, motorman of the Bridgeport bound car.
EDITH WILKINSON, four years old, of Shelton.
NANCY WILKINSON, three years old, her sister.
FREDA GOLDBERG, 15 years old, of Derby.
HARRY GOLDBERG, 13, her brother.
PETER KOCK, 26, of Shelton.
An unidentified girl and and unidentified woman.

A five gallon can of gasoline, which was in the front part of the Bridgeport-bound trolley car, exploded and caused a fierce fire to burn the two cars, John J. Phelan, coroner of Fairfield county, declared tonight. The coroner expressed the opinion that there would have been no loss of life and probably very few injuries if the gasoline had not been in the car. Coroner Phelan has the remnants of the can.

A hearing of the accident will be held in Bridgeport Thursday, said the coroner, and the public utilities commission will sit with the coroner's jury.

The collision occurred about 500 feet south of a switch, when both cars were traveling at a fair rate of speed. Witnesses said there was a loud report immediately after the crash and flames burst out in the wreckage where the two cars were buckled together.

A report circulated among the crowd that gathered at the scene of the wreck, was that a five-gallon can of gasoline was in the front vestibule of the Bridgeport bound car. The source of the report could not be learned. Spectators were of the opinion that something accelerated the flames, as they spread rapidly.

There were but five persons in the north bound car and all were able to get out safely and quickly. The south bound car, going to Bridgeport, had about 35 passengers. Panic broke out on the heels of the crash, as the flames spread through the forward part of the cars. The GOLDBERG children were seated in the front seat of the car and were caught in the first sweep of the fire.

Near the middle of the car was MRS. WILLIAM A. WILKINSON of Shelton, with her two daughters, aged three and four. As men among the passengers smashed windows, several of them made efforts to push the two little ones out of the car, it was said, but the attempt was not successful and the bodies of the children were among those taken to a Shelton morgue. All of the bodies were charred and identification of the girl and woman whose names are unknown, seemed almost impossible.
Fourteen persons are in the Griffin Hospital, Derby. One of these is MRS. WILKINSON, who is severely burned and blinded. Practically no hope is held out for her recovery. An unidentified man of Italian nationality also is in the hospital and is not expected to live. The other injured are expected to recover.

The two trolley cars were making their first trips on the Bridgeport-Derby line since the snowstorm tied up the line Sunday. The Connecticut company offices in Derby said it was believed orders had been given to the southbound car to pass the switch near High Bridge, where the northbound car usually is waiting. The southbound car went over the switch and across the bridge and had travelled but a few hundred feet further when the collision occurred. Connecticut company officials said the signal lights used at the switch were in good order and were working after the accident. There is a clear view of the tracks for more than 500 feet either way at the point of the collision. High Bridge crosses a deep gully.

The collision was seen from a distance by a number of persons including passengers on a Waterbury to New Haven trolley car, which was across the Housatonic river. The crew of this car reported the crash at the Connecticut company offices at Derby a minute or two later and calls were sent out for physicians.

The Shelton fire department was called and Griffin hospital sent its ambulance. Most of the injured were taken the two miles to the hospital in fire hose wagons. The work of fighting the fire preceded the efforts to get out the bodies. The flames had gained great headway when the firemen arrived, and both the trolley cars of the large double truck type, were burned down to the trucks. The crowd was kept back from the scene as firemen, police and physicians removed the bodies from the debris. An embankment on one side of the tracks made it difficult for passengers who got out of the cars to reach a safe footing.


Daily Kennebec Journal
Maine
February 23, 1921

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Shelton, Connecticut, USA (Huntington)

Shelton, Connecticut, USA (Huntington)

Shelton, Connecticut, USA (Huntington)

Shelton, Connecticut, USA (Huntington)

Shelton, Connecticut, USA (Huntington)

Shelton, Connecticut, USA (Huntington)

Shelton, Connecticut, USA (Huntington)

Shelton, Connecticut, USA (Huntington)

Shelton, Connecticut, USA (Huntington)

Shelton, Connecticut, USA (Huntington)

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