(AP)--Two fast Chicago and Eastern Illinois passenger trains collided head-on in a heavy fog at the village of Dewey, three miles north of here, early today, killing 26 persons and injuring 65 others.

Many of the victims were overseas air force veterans wearing purple heart decorations.

Army authorities and Coroner D.M. Ferguson said they could not say how many of the dead were soldiers, but a check of funeral homes disclosed they had bodies of twenty-one soldiers, one member of the women’s army corps, one civilian and three persons of which they were uncertain.


Involved in the collision were the crack, 14-coach Dixie Flyer, bound from Chicago to Florida, and an express train bound for Chicago and carrying no passengers.


They crashed at 2:20 a.m. on a single main line track three miles from the nearest siding.


The Dixie Flyer’s locomotive, two baggage cars and three Pullman cars, loaded with


soldiers, hurtled from the tracks

and piled up in a twisted heap along the roadbed.



One of the Pullman cars split wide open.  Some of the soldiers were pinned to their seats.  Others were tossed beside the tracks and some were caught beneath other cars.


Purple heart decorations, air medals, baggage, and personal belongings were strewn for 100 yards.


One of the passengers, an Army major suffering from shock and who refused to give his name, said the soldiers were overseas veterans who had just completed 30 day furloughs and were en route to a redistribution center.  He said there were 39 soldiers in the demolished first car.


The Army refused to release a full list of the soldier dead and injured until next of kin have been notified, but told newsmen that 39 soldiers—the same number as was riding in the first car—were either dead or injured.

Eyewitnesses said the scene of the wreck was one of confusion and horror.  Heavy fog hung close to the ground and it was difficult for rescuers, carrying flares, to locate the cries of some of the injured. 


Passengers in cars which remained upright gave first aid and general assistance.  Few of the persons on the upright coaches suffered more than shock or bruises.  Most of them were sleeping and were jolted against the top of their berths or onto the floor.


A Catholic priest hurried to the wreck and then returned to St. Anthony and Union hospital, administering last rites to all victims.


At dawn, when the fog turned to a slight drizzle, the uninjured civilian passengers were taken to nearby Clinton for breakfast and the unhurt soldiers were brought to the armory here.



September 14, 1944 -  The Associated Press


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