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if ascertainable, so that by the enactment of statutes or by the adoption and enforcement of rules and regulations by railroad corporations similar accidents may be prevented in the future.
If, by a strict compliance with the provisions of this statute, the safety of railroad trains, can in any degree be promoted, none can have greater reason or interest to aid in the matter than the officers and managers of railroads. Therefore we are forced to believe that the failure to notify the Board, in the instances above mentioned, is attributable to a misapprehension of the nature of the provisions of the statute by such officers, rather than to an intention to evade its requirements. Having again, herein, called attention to the law and to the Board's interpretation thereof, we trust that in the future, whenever accidents to trains, such as are above described, occur, immediate notice, of wbich, will be given to the Board, so that an investigation thereof may be made if deemed necessary.
ACCIDENT AT KINGMAN. On the twenty-third day of March 1889, on the European and North American Division of the Maine Central Railroad, near Boyd's Mills, in the town of Kingman, a fatal accident occurred to a passenger train, in which William D. Mudgett of Dexter and John Campbell of St. John, N. B., mail agents, and Harry Goodwin of Bangor, fireman, lost their lives, and others were seriously injured.
An examination of the locality and an investigation were made by the Board in connection with a coroner's jury, at Kingman, on the twenty-seventh day of March 1889. At said investigation, it appeared from the evidence adduced, that on the morning of the accident a freight train left Mattawamkeag for Vanceboro', in charge of Conductor Frank W. Hammond, at a quarter before seven o'clock, being fifteen minutes later than the regular time for starting ; that before leaving Mattawamkeag, a truck frame for a freight car was attached to the
rear end of said train, to be hauled to the siding or spur track at Boyd's Mills, in said Kingman, to be placed under a certain car there being repaired; said car frame being in charge of William H. Bither, a car inspector and repairer, who, together with one Milton Scott, a car carpenter, both in the employ of said railroad company, took passage on said train at Mattawam keag, which arrived at the siding above named, at about eight minutes past eight o'clock, when, after doing some shifting on said siding or spur, the truck-frame aforesaid, was unshackled and left by the Conductor, on the main line, in charge of said Bither, who, having it key to the switch lock, was, as appears, permitted and, as testitied to by Mr. Hammond and admitted by Bither, instructed “To see that all was right after he should put the truck-frame on the siding ;" that the train aforesaid then proceeded toward Vanceboro’; that, as testified to by Hammond, before going out of sight of said switch, he saw said frame moved upon the siding, but did not see the switch thrown back.
The passenger train from Bangor, in charge of Conductor E. C. Chase, running at a speed of nearly thirty miles an hour, arrived at said siding at about 9.30 o'clock A. M. and there left the main line and ran in on said siding or spur and into certain freight or flat cars there standing, some of which, as appears, were loaded with hay. By reason of the collision, the locomotive, two mail and baggage cars and a Pullman sleeping or parlor car were thrown from the track over an embankment and crushed together with the hay cars aforesaid, all of which were immediately set on fire by the locomotive and car stoves therein and quickly consumed, thus causing the death of the persons above mentioned, its well as the destruction of much property.
From the examination of the premises and from all the evidence elicited at said bearing, we were and still are fully convinced that the accident was caused by the misplacement of the switch by Mr. Bither, the person left in charge of same, notwithstanding the fact that there was some testimony
tending to show that the switch had been tampered with, by some person unknown, after being set by Bither.
Mr. Bither testified that after the freight train left he "threw the switch for the siding; that then he and Scott shoved the truck-frame onto the siding; that he then threw the switch on the main line again”. “Suppose I locked it, but have no distinct recollection. I am terribly afraid I did not”; that after throwing the switch and locking it, as he supposed, he went to work on the cars which were on the siding a short distance from the switch. Milton Scott, who was with him, testified that he "saw Bither throw the switch onto the main line and noticed that the target indicated that it was all right".
Being afterwards called, he supplemented his former testimony by saying, “That immediately after the accident and before the unburned cars were rolled away from those burning, Bither and I went to look at the switch and I picked up the lock out of the snow and gave it to Bither and he locked the switch”.
Conductor Hammond, above mentioned, also testified that she noticed that morning that the lock on the switch was out of order and that he telegraphed the fact to Kingman when he arrived at the next telegraph station”.
Much of the testimony given by Bither and Scott was not consistent with that given by Conductor E. C. Chase, who was in charge of the train which met with the accident. He testified, substantially as follows: That after doing all that could be done to clear the wreck and to save lives, I examined the switch and found it in perfect order and set locked on the side track. Saw Bither and Scott near it.
I said "Oh Bither, who could have done such a thing as this and let us onto the side track"? He replied “I don't know. If it is wrong, Scott and I must have done it.” They said nothing about picking up the lock out of the snow. I never heard of the fact till told here today.
From the view this Board takes of the matter, it is of little consequence whether this switch was or was not locked on this particular occasion. All, who are acquainted with the manner of construction of such switches, kuow that whenever the switch is thrown and the bar or bandle placed in the slot made for that purpose, whether set upon the main or side track, it will remain and hold the rails firmly in place, whether the same be locked or not, provided it is not afterward meddled with. The province of the lock is not to control the movement of the rails in any way; but to prevent meddling with the switch after it has been set. There was no evidence tending to show that anyone meddled with the switch after it was set by Bither: neither was there much if any opportunity for anyone to do so. Therefore if the switch had been properly set, it would have so remained, whether locked or not.
While we find that want of care on the part of this man Bither was the immediate cause of the accident, it is by law our duty to go further and inquire what other act or acts, if any, of other persons, contributed to or in any way led up to the final result.
Did Conductor Hammond do his duty in the premises? Rule: 144, issued by the Maine Central Railroad Company to employes, is as follows: "Whoever throws a switch on a side track must see it back on the main line and locked." Another rule of this company requires that "Conductors must know that each switch which has been changed for his train, is left right and locked for the main line, unless it be in charge of a regular switch-man, or the conductor of a following train is present and takes charge.” The testimony in this case showed that the truck-frame was attached to the rear of Hammond's traiu and hauled from Mattawamkeng to the above mentioned siding. If the rules above quoted had been strictly followed by Mr. Hammond, would be not have seen that the truck-frame was removed from the inain line and put upon the siding “and the switch left right and lockcd”? If that had been done, Bither would have had no cause to open it again to remove the truck-frame from the
main line. He was not "a regular switchman" and as we view it, ought not to have been instructed with the duty or privilege of removing the said truck from the main line as above stated; but clearly, this ought to bave been done by the person in charge of the train who hauled it there, even if the rules did not require it. The integrity of the main lines
. of railroads over which so many human beings are being daily and hourly swiftly carried, ought not to be intrusted to the care of irresponsible parties, though they be employes of the company who may happen to have by chance, switch keys in their pockets, but to men specially designated.
In view of the facts disclosed in this investigation we would suggest to managers of railroads in this State, and request them to carefully consider whether or not some rule or rules can be adopted and enforced that will more effectually guard the use of switches.
We are confident that more accidents have occurred during the past year to trains, by reason of misplaced switches, than froni any other single cause.
ACCIDENT NEAR OAKLAND. Ou the tenth day of June 1889, a serious accident occurred on the Maine Central Railroad, near the village of Oakland, to the regular passenger train from Portland via Lewiston to Skowhegan, in which Roscoe W. Stevens, Express Agent of Skowbegan was killed, and A. S. Libby, Mail Agent of Portland and
Patterson, Baggage Master of Belfast were severely injured; all of whom were in the mail and baggage car, which, as hereinafter appears, was, by reason of the washing away of the road-bed embankment, derailed and wrecked, together with the locomotive and tender.
The Board having been notificd of the same, went to the place of accident, on the twelfth, and carefully examined the premises. From said examination, the cause of the accident seemed so apparent, the Board deemed a further investigation unnecessary.