Benjamin Franklin & Sarah Lucinda Harding Davis Death at Railroad Crossing
Contributor: trishkovach Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
Newspaper Article August 19th, 1926
TRAIN HITS AUTO, AGED COUPLE DIE
B.F. DAVIS, 63, AND WIFE, AGE 55, MEET INSTANT DEATH AT ALGOMA
CAR REDUCED TO WRECKAGE
Impact Wrecks Engine Pilot of Inch Steel -Double Funeral Held Yesterday
Benjamin F. Davis, age 63, and his wife, age 55, were instantly killed shortly before 11 o'clock Friday morning, when their light auto truck was struck and demolished by Northern Pacific eastbound passenger train No. 4 at a private crossing about a half mile south of the Algoma store, which the Davises ran, six miles south of Sandpoint. They were coming from a field on a farm they owned, bringing out a load of hay; when the accident occurred.
The truck was thrown 40 to 50 feet to the ditch at the west of the track, and was virtually reduced to a twisted mass of scrap. Mr. Davis was thrown clear of the rails but sustained a badly crushed skull behind and above the right ear. His face was also considerably bruised, evidently by falling face first among the cinders and crushed rock of the track ballast. Mrs. Davis was thrown directly in the path of the train and her body severed. It was picked up about 75 feet beyond the body of her husband.
The impact of the collision broke down the engine's pilot of 1 inch steel, bent it like a pretzel, and caused it to drag along the ties, all but derailing the train. Long splinters, several inches thick, were torn from some of the ties before the train could be stopped. Before proceeding, the train crew disconnected the pilot and rolled it into the ditch.
W. A. Moore, Sandpoint poolhall man who was returning from a business trip to Spokane on No. 4 Friday morning, stated that passengers felt the air brakes suddenly applied but did not feel the jar of the collision.
"I first thought we were due for a collision with another train." he stated. "but when I looked out the window I could see an auto wheel going through the air and then rolling on the ground and knew we had struck a car. The train was travelling about 50 miles an hour. I should judge, and the engineer made a very quick stop for the speed, bringing the train to a halt with the last coach but a hundred feet or so distant from the crossing."
There were no witnesses to the accident, save the engine crew, and the first information the family had of the disaster was in the observance by Christina, 17-year old daughter of the accident victims, of scattered piles of hay along the track, as she was walking on the highway which parallels the railroad track south of Algoma. She sensed something wrong and told her brother Dillard who was at the Algoma store.
The train crew reported the accident at the Sandpoint station and an investigation was started at once by Coroner Dr. O. F. Page. Sheriff John Amblie and Deputy W. G. Phalon, who went to the scene on a Northern Pacific speeder, accompanied by Undertakers L. G. Moon and R. E. Wiessn of the Moon Mortuary, who took two pickup baskets with them on a section car behind the speeder.
The exact circumstances of the tragedy will perhaps never be known but it is surmised that Mr. and Mrs. Davis were "taking a run" for the short but quite steep grade over the track and did not see the approaching train in time to avoid the collision. They were crossing the track from east to west and there is quite a grove of trees just south of the road leading to their field, abutting the railroad right-of-way. There is a curve in the track about six or 700 feet south of the crossing but this is not regarded as a factor of the accident as the train must have been north of the curve when the truck emerged from the trees. The track is perhaps six or seven feet above the road grade at the crossing.
Mr. and Mrs. Davis were born in Oregon but had lived in Oklahoma for a number of years before coming to Bonner County 12 years ago. They bought the Algoma store about six years ago.
They are survived by eight children, four of whom were living with the parents. Those at home were Dillard, who was working at the A. C. White mill at Dover; Luther and Aaron, who were working at a logging camp west of Sandpoint; and Christina, who helped in the store. Sherman Davis lives at Vararie, Oregon; Mrs. Josie Wallace lives at Sandpoint; and Mrs. Cora Lucas and Mrs. Cora Wallace live in Oklahoma. Mr. Davis is also survived by his father who lives at Seattle and is 98 years old; and Mrs. Davis is survived by her mother, Mrs. Hardy of Oklahoma, who recently visited at the Davis home in Algoma. One of the daughters living in Oklahoma was en route here for a visit at the time of the tragedy.
Following the accident, the bodies were brought to the Moon mortuary here, but the funderal was delayed several days, awaiting the arrival of members of the family from Oklahoma and Oregon. The funeral service was held yesterday afternoon at the chapel of the Moon mortuary Rev. Dr. William Westwood of the Presbyterian church officiating, after which the bodies were taken to the Westmond cemetery for interment.