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Caused by a Mistake of Operator Behler. What He Says About It.

Miller Station was the scene of a bad wreck last Friday evening. Miller is a station twelve miles west of here at the crossing of the Lake Shore and Baltimore & Ohio railroads, and has an electric crossing. Chas. Behler, whose home is in Porter was in charge of the crossing at the time, and also acted as day operator. Through him B. & O. freight No. 25 west bound was wrecked and one man killed, two seriously injured, and five horses killed. The locomotive was totally wrecked, and freight cars piled up as high as the telegraph wires.

A Tribune representative interviewed Behler and his story was as follows: "I was hired as target tender and telegraph operator to fill the post at Miller on the 25th of October and began work then. I found I had the work of three men to do, and that several men had tried and quit. After being there a few days I concluded to resign, and I wish to God I had before that fatal Friday evening. In the morning and towards evening the work is heavier than usual. About 5:30 what is known as the McCool to South Chicago came in, and Conductor Dunn asked me to find out whether there were any oil or beef cars in Whiting. I inquired at Chicago, and was referred to the agent at Whiting. I was then talking to Whiting, when a Lake Shore extra came into sight, whistling for the target. The McCool B. & O. local was lying on the side track, with Conductor Dunn in my office. I turned the target to give the Lake Shore the right of way, when Dunn exclaimed, "My God, here is No. 25." It was then within 100 feet of the tower, and the next instant came the crash. I had not got the wheel hardly turned, for we turn it from A to E, and I had only got it to D when No. 25 was off the track. Dunn said to me, "See if any one is killed, if there is, you fly." I thought everybody was killed and I grabbed my hat and overcoat and lit out. I ran through woods and swamps, and am told that I came to Telleston. I caught a freight somewhere on the Michigan Central, and got to Kensington. I intended to go to Chicago and give myself up, but fell in with some Forresters there, of which order I am a member, and they advised me to go back home. I did so, and here I am."

From either sources we learn that the wrecked train took on two cars at Willow Springs, loaded with horses and four men, who had been working on the Wabash. The company allows one man to each car, but two extra men had smuggled themselves in on of the cars, and had gone to sleep under some hay. Those two cars were next to the engine. Within a mile of Millers the train broke in two, and the engine came on to the station and took water. It then backed down to the rest of the train, coupled on, and started out. The engineer had pulled the throttle wide open, and was under a speed of twenty miles an hour when he struck the derail. Owing to the sandy nature of the soil the train did not blockade the crossing and demolish the tower, but piled itself up in a heap. The engineer and fireman were pulled out of the demolished locomotive unhurt, but how they escaped death is a miracle. One of the men in the horse cars who was stealing a ride, was found dead, and two others were seriously injured. Four horses were killed outright, and one had to be shot. The McCool local which lay right beside the wrecked train miraculously escaped injury. The Lake Shore freight, which had the right of way, was pulled down before it reached the crossing. Agent Kennedy, formerly in charge of the Dune Park Station, but now in charge at Miller, to relieve Agent Cooke, who has been on the sick list for the past month, narrowly escaped bodily violence from the enraged train men, and had Behler been there he would have been killed by them.

The Lake county Coroner held an inquest on the body of the dead man Saturday, and Behler sent in his statement to the railroad company. Behler had been in the employ of the Chicago Hydraulic brick company at Porter up to Oct. 25. He has worked for different railroad companies nearly five years as operator. He has a wife and one child living at Porter. He says the cause of the wreck lies solely in the fact that he had to do three men's work, and could not do it. That place needs one man to tend target and one to do the operating, at least, as there are two roads to receive and send train orders for. He claims the company violated the law when its trains ran to the crossing faster than eight miles an hour, and that had the train been going that fast, instead of at a speed of 20 miles an hour, the wreck would not have happened.

Newspaper: The Tribune
Date of Publication: November 11, 1892
Volume Number: 9
Issue Number: 31
Page: 1
Column(s): 6

Key to Newspaper Publication Locations:
    Newspapers Published in Chesterton, Porter County, Indiana
                Chesterton Tribune
                The Tribune
                Westchester Tribune

    Newspapers Published in Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana
                Porter County Vidette
                Practical Observer
                Valparaiso Practical Observer
                Vidette and Republic
                Western Ranger

The obituaries and death notices appearing on this website have been transcribed exactly as they were originally published in the newspaper. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of obituaries and death notices appearing on this website.

Obituary/death notice transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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