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1942 Train Wreck

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05/30/14 was the last day I modified this page.

God Bless America

Marker to be placed at site of 1942 train wreck that killed 15

By Dan Johnson

The Copiah County Historical and Genealogical Society has been granted approval by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to place a historical marker in Railroad Park in Crystal Springs commemorating the August 5, 1942 bus-train collision that killed 15 people.† The marker text has also received approval and the marker has been ordered. The society is still receiving donations to cover the cost of the historical marker.

Witnesses were quoted as saying that the driver of the bus had been to the bus station in town at Thaxton's Drug Store and was headed westward on Marion Avenue back to the Highway 51 when the crash occurred.† The bus driver stopped the bus at the intersection, waited for a northbound freight train to pass, and then pulled onto the crossing.†

At that time, an unnoticed southbound special troop train struck the rear of the bus.† The engines at the rear of the bus were torn out, the top ripped off, and the 52 passengers strewn along the ditch beside the railroad tracks for a number of yards below the crossing.† The bus was turned over several times and came to rest upside down with the front of it facing back toward the tracks.† The bus was carrying 26 Air Force cadets and another 26 civilians.† Casualties included a few people who had been standing by the tracks waiting for the trains to pass.

The Society is attempting to collect personal information on those who perished in the tragedy.† From Copiah County, the casualties were: Thelma Boatman Dodds (Mrs. W. L.), Fannie Johnson Smith (Mrs. Jim); Ella Smith (Mrs. Henry); and Zellie Estelle Strickland Cutrer (Mrs. Tommy).† Others who perished from Mississippi were Rosco Smith and Truly Smith from Brookhaven; and Carrie Brandstetter Stevens (Mrs. James J.) from Starkville.† The remaining out-of-state civilian death was Dorothy Fern Franck (Mrs. Carl Francis) from Adel, Iowa.†

Among the Air Force Cadets who were killed were Richard H. M. Shinebarger and his wife of three weeks, Wilma Betty Hutcheson Shinebarger, from Erin, NY; Geddie Ray Smathers, Jr. of Charlotte, NC; John M. Landt of New York, NY; Aaron Allan Zilberdrut of Brooklyn, NY; and William J. Rescorl of Seneca, NY.† Merchant Marine Don McGhee of Atlantic, Iowa, was the final casualty.

Copiah residents injured included:† Jim Belding, C. A. Hutchinson, Mrs. Thurman Keen, Mrs. Rowan King, H. D. Morgan, Mrs. Eddie Morton and son, H. T., and Dahlia Mosley, all of Crystal Springs; Agnes Cox, and Katie May Young, both of Hazlehurst.

Other injured from Mississippi were:† Bessie Kelly, and Earl and Louise Patterson, all of Jackson.† Other injured civilians were:† Robert M. Bailey, address unknown; James Edward Black, Pratville, AL; Mrs. R. B. Carrington, Memphis, TN; William Frank, Newton, NJ; Thomas H. Judson, Miami, FL; Goldie Levitte, Philadelphia, PA; Thomas H. Lindsey, Miami, FL; A. L. Owens (bus driver), New Orleans, LA; Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Robb, Pensacola, FL; Constantine J. Segalls, address unknown; Raymond H. Sienaukowski, address unknown;† Juanita Smith, Jefferson, MN; Leslie Ray Watson, address unknown;† Felix Wycall, RI;

Aviation cadets injured were: Abe Anderson, Chicago, IL; Harry Lasker, Trumball, CT; Wm. Henry McLaughlin, Portchester, NY; Richard A. Mushlit, Chester, PA; George R. Schmidt, Yonkers, NY; Kenneth Sherill, address unknown; John Sica, Bronx, NY; Norman Siegel, New York, NY; Clayton Smith, Whiting, IN; Richard Snood, Jefferson, MN; George F. Squillario, address unknown; A. W. Tyson, Trenton, NJ; and Lodis M. Wendell, Pawtuckett, RI.

A few witnesses have already shared their personal recollections of that tragic day. Personal information which has been gathered on the victims will be published in the sesquicentennial souvenir book which will be available at the CCHGS booth during the Tomato Festival.

The dedication is to take place at 10:00 a.m. in Railroad Park on June 28.† Anyone with information on any of these individuals or with memories of this tragedy is urged to contact Dan Johnson at 601-892-1345 or

Marker donations may be sent to: CCHGS, P.O. Box 111, Crystal Springs, MS† 39059.

--Published in the Copiah County Courier 6/5/2008

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