Apparently, the whistle of the approaching train and the warning shouts of the trainmen were not heard by either. It was not until the engine was almost on them, that they appeared to realize their danger. Then the trainmen saw TOLAND rise in his seat and lash the horse. The animal bounded sharply forward, and the train whizzed onto the crossing. For an instant the buggy was hidden (sic) from the sight of those in the engine cab. The animal was seen to start wildly down the road with the broken buggy shafts striking against his side. The vehicle was a mass of debris on the track and beneath the pile, the two men were lying. The engineer had endeavored to shut off steam when he saw the buggy driven onto the crossing; but the entire train of cars passed over the bodies of the two pioneers before the engine was brought to a stop, and the trainmen ran back. The sight which met their gaze was a shocking one.
CURTIS and TOLAND had evidently been instantly killed, death apparently coming to both within the same second. Their bodies were crushed almost beyond recognition. TOLAND's skull was gashed so fearfully that his features could scarcely be distinguished. The arms of the two were interlocked, as though, seeing that their fate was inevitable, with a last impulse, they had sought to give each other a last embrace. Apparently while in this position the engine struck the buggy. They were evidently hurled from the seat, the horse just clearing the rails as the crash came. The buggy was demolished. The men had been thrown beneath the debris, and this was forced down onto the bodies as the long line of car rumbled over the crossing. The splintered wood was literally soaked with blood, and covered with pieces of flesh. The accident is described as one of the most shocking in the history of local railroads.
Acting Coroner Clifford HARRAMAN was immediately telephoned for and drove out from this city at once. They were placed on a freight car and brought to the Pennsylvania depot, where they were transferred to the patrol wagon, and taken to the undertaking establishment of Schindler & Snypp. Harraman made a brief investigation into the cause of the accident and interviewed the trainmen. The inquest will be held today.
The story of the trainmen is to the effect that they did not see the buggy until it was nearly onto the crossing. Then the whistle was blown several times and everything possible was done to attract the attention of the two men. Engineer BRENAHAN says that as soon as the men did not stop, he realized that they were probably deaf and would not be able to get across the tracks before the train struck the buggy. "I at once sought the shut off steam in time to bring the train to a standstill, or at least break the force of the collision," he continued. "But I was not given time to do anything. Even up to the last second I was in hope the men would be able to jump in time to save themselves. Had they been younger, I believe they could have leaped in season to escape. The fact that the horse was over the rails before the buggy was struck is proof that the occupants of the vehicle could have reached the ground in safety had they been younger and more active men. Doubtless the terror into which they were thrown by the shock of the discovery that the train was on them scattered their self-possession. The accident is not the fault of anyone. The engine whistled before the train reached the crossing. We did everything in our power to attract the attention of the men. Had they possessed their natural hearing the accident could not have happened.
Conductor T. C. REYNOLDS, in charge of the train, said in discussing the accident: "I was attracted by the furious whistling just before we reached the crossing. I at once knew that something was wrong. I didn't see the buggy, however, until it was almost on the track, and then I covered my eyes with my hands. I knew that escape for the occupants of the vehicle was out of the question, unless they were unusually active and possessed rare presence of mind. Everything was done to check the train before it reached the crossing. The fact however that the buggy had ample time to stop when the whistle sounded naturally gave the impression that its occupants would heed the warning and so no effort was made to stop the train until too late.
The train was extra freight No. 8909 in charge of Engineer Michael BRNEHAN and Conductor T. C. REYNODLS, J. F. MITCHELL was fireman. The train had been brought here from Xenia early in the afternoon and the engine had not been turned around. With the locomotive tender in front and the freight-cab in the rear, the crew were making the return trip. The order to the train crew read that the track was clear and the train was moving at a rate of probably 20 miles an hour. The Yellow Springs pike crossing was reached at about 4:45. It did not take long the clear the debris from the track, but it was some time before the coroner arrived. It took several hours for matters to be adjusted.
The Old Settlers' meeting at Emory Chapel was held in the early part of the afternoon. For some years it has been the habit for the older residents of the country to get together each year at the chapel, and the meeting yesterday was largely in the nature of an annual reunion. Remarks were made by a number, and the afternoon was taken up largely with stories of the early life in the county. Both CURTIS and TOLAND have been in the habit of attending meetings of this kind over the county, and are among the best known of the early pioneers of this section. When they spoke yesterday afternoon, it was noticed that there was a strange hesitancy on the part of both to make extended remarks. Several times in the course of the meeting they had been heard to remark to their neighbors that it was sad how the old settlers are thining out, and how few in comparision with former years turn out to the meetings of the old residents of the county. "It is not given to men to live long after the allotted time of three score years and ten," said Mr. CURTIS. "I have passed that point and so has Brother TOLAND. We should be ready to lay down our burdens. We have seen the ranks of the pioneers thin each year. It makes my heart ache to see how few of the old residents of this vicinity are with us today. It is not their fault. It is not due to forgetfulness of the old neighbors and comrades. They have been called to their eternal homes. The rest of us are soon to follow. I will not see another reunion." Mr. TOLAND talked in the same strain and the fact that the two men have always been the closest companions and have usually been the heartiest jokers at meeting of this character naturally attracted much attention to their depressed spirits. When they got into their buggy to go home, they seemed lothe about driving off, and it was with continued waves of their hands to those standing about that they finally rounded a bend in the road …and….disappeared from sight.
Jacob CURTIS was a carpenter by trade, although he had not worked actively at his trade from some years. He lived at 135 East Grand avenue. He leaves a wife and six children to mourn his untimely death. His children are William B., John C., George and Charles CURTIS and Emeland Rose CURTIS. Mr. TOLAND leaves a wife who is absent on a visit to California, and two sons, Charles and A. L. TOLAND. Both men have been prominently known for many years in this county, and have perhaps as wide an acquaintance as any of the older resident of this vicinity.