enter name and hit return
Find in Page
JANUARY 20, 1926


While Ruth SOEFER's parents lie stricken in separate hospitals, her mother
prostrated by shock, her father with both legs broken, and both
unsuspecting the final blow in store for them, officials are conducting
four separate investigations today into the tragic "L" crash on the
Williamsburg Bridge yesterday that snuffed out the little girl's life and
injured forty-four others.

It was not until nearly ten hours after the disaster that the child was
identified.  At dusk last evening a 10-year-old boy went anxiously to a
police station asking for his sister.  He was Herman SOEFER.  Police took
him to St. Catharine's Hospital, where he identified Ruth, who had died of
a fractured skull just before he arrived. Her mother, Mrs. Rebecca SOEFER,
of 30 Sumner avenue was in Gouverneur Hospital, Manhattan.  Her father,
Morris, lay helpless in Beth Moses Hospital.  Neither of them have been
told of their daughter's death

Motorman Prisoner in Hospital

John SIMMER, injured motorman of the string of eight ancient wooden cars,
which groaned over the peak of the span and plunged into a steel train
standing motionless ahead, is under arrest on a homicide charge in
connection with Ruth's death.

His version of faulty brakes on the wooden cars is but one of three
conflicting stories of the cause of the disaster, which are being
investigated separately by Assistant District Attorney William RYAN, of the
Homicide Bureau in the Manhattan District Attorney's office; Albert
GOLDMAN, Commissioner of Plant and Structures; the Transit Commission, and
officials of the B-M. T.

Coincident with their inquiries, two bills are being introduced in the
Upper and Lower Houses of the Legislature at Albany today seeking to direct
the Transit Commission to compel the discontinuance of all wooden cars on
subway and elevated lines and to issue orders that only steel cars be used.

Assemblyman George BLUMBERG, of the Sixth District, introduced in the
Assembly a resolution directing the Transit Commission to start immediate
proceeding with a view of compelling the discontinuance of all wooden cars
on subway and elevated lines and to issue orders that only steel cars be used.

At the same time Senator Thomas BURCHILL, of Manhattan, introduced in the
Upper House a bill providing that only steel cars may be used in trains on
either the elevated or subway lines.  The bill provides that the Transit
Commission shall make such orders as may be necessary to enforce the
measure and one year after the passage of the bill be given to comply with
the order.

Senator BURCHILL was a passenger on the train that was wrecked on the
Williamsburg Bridge yesterday.  While he was not seriously hurt, he was
shaken up considerably and was unable to come her last night for the
opening of the weekly session.

Preliminary investigation divided the blame among four factors - fog, which
lowered visibility; speed, which made it difficult to stop after the
express came into view; faulty brakes, which would make it impossible to
stop quickly, and reports from passengers that SIMMER was having an
altercation with one of his passengers instead of attending strictly to the
business of getting them safely to their destination.

Simmer Places Blame on Fog

Passengers on the two trains agreed that the fog at the time, which was the
height of the morning rush hour, shortly before 9 o'clock, was unusually
thick.  It seemed to them to be denser over the East River than over the
adjoining land, and according to a Transit Commission inspector, who was on
the first car of the wooden Broadway train, it was hardly possible to see
more than fifty or sixty feet ahead.

SIMMER, the motorman, who is 35 years old and lives at 1341 Flushing
avenue, told Assistant District Attorney RYAN the rear lights of the steel
car train became visible suddenly and the bulk of the rear car loomed out
of the fog.  He applied his brakes, he said, and when they failed to take
hold, reversed his motor.  For a second or two, a score or more of
passengers who saw that a collision was imminent, sat or stood breathless.

SIMMER told RYAN that he had applied the airbrakes when from  125 to 150
feet from the train ahead and had put on the emergency brakes and reversed
the motors when 100 feet distant.

No statement regarding the accident was obtainable from the B-M. T.
officials, but it was said at the company's offices that from reports
received it was doubtful whether the steel car train could have been seen
at a distance of 100 feet because of the fog, and that the rails were so
slippery with rain the brakes could not be expected to stop a train with
ordinary quickness.

As to the brakes, according to engineers of the Transit Commission, a
superficial examination failed to bear out SIMMER's contention they were
faulty.  The engineers will make further tests of them and report.

Passengers Say Train Was Speeding

Some of the passengers insist that SIMMER's train was rushing across the
bridge at twenty-five miles an hour or more. Others say they felt the train
slide along helplessly even after they heard the grinding of the brakes.

According to Irving BUTLER, of 222 Rodney street, SIMMER started an
argument with him when he boarded the train at Gates avenue via the front
platform and continued it until just before the crash.  SIMMER, according
to Assistant District Attorney RYAN, admitted he had had words with BUTLER,
but said the interruption had ended before the bridge was reached.

SIMMER's contention that the brakes were faulty was partly corroborated by
an employee of the Postal Telegraph-Cable Company at Williamsburg Bridge
Plaza.  He said he was the manager there, but refused to give his name.

" I am almost certain that the wooden train was the same on which I rode
from my home station to the Marcy avenue station," he said.  That train had
defective brakes, for it went partly past nearly every station.  The
motorman seemed to have the greatest difficulty in stopping the train.
When finally we arrived at the Marcy avenue station, the car in which I was
riding went so far I had to go through the car behind to reach the station.
 I had only been in my office a few minutes when I hear the ambulances go

The revised list of casualties follows:


SOEFER, RUTH, 3 years old, of 30 Sumner avenue, Brooklyn.


ATCHISON, WALTER, 25 years old, of 8822 123d street, Richmond Hill; bruised
shoulder; attended by a surgeon from St. Catharine's Hospital, Brooklyn.

DEVINE, JOHN, John, 34, of 4 Columbia street, Brooklyn; cuts of face and
scalp; was attended and went home.

DICKSTEIN, AUGUSTA, 19, of 214 Ross street, Brooklyn; lacerations of face
and right eye; was attended and went home.

DIGRUIS, JULIUS, 18, of 207 Rodney street, Brooklyn; lacerated face; was
attended and went home.

FEIDLER, JACOB, 38, of 335 Stockton street, Brooklyn; bruised right heel;
was attended at Gouverneur Hospital and went home.

FLANDER, MORRIS, conductor, 43, of 182d street and Third avenue; bruises;
was attended at Gouverneur Hospital and went home.

FRASER, ALBERT, 33, of 29 McKibben street, Brooklyn; contusions and
fractured ribs.

HETTERICK, WILLIAM, 39, of 1124A Greene avenue, Brooklyn; bruised back; was
attended and went home.

JOHNSON, JOHN, 447 Evergreen avenue; bruised right forearm; was attended
and went home.

KARALIS, MICHAEL, 25, of 112 Henry street; two compound fractures of both
legs and injuries of the face.

KATZ, CLARA, 19, of 29 Graham avenue, Brooklyn; sprained ankle; cuts and
bruises of the body; was attended and went home.

KREIMHOLTZ, MAX, of 170 McKibben street, Brooklyn; right foot amputated;
Gouverneur Hospital.

LASSA, MARY, 21, of 12 Bleeker street, Brooklyn; cut face and shock;
attended and went home.

LOFTUS, WILLIAM J., 17, of 659 MacDonough street, Brooklyn; bruises; was
attended and went home.

LOVATO, MARY, 24, of 121 Bleeker street, Brooklyn; contusions of face.

MESSETTE, LENA, of 80 Hooper street, Brooklyn; contusions and shock; was
attended and went home.

McAVOY, EDWARD, 17, of 139 Flushing avenue, Brooklyn; cut left face and
left leg; was attended and went home.

McENROE, THOMAS, 25, of 526 Grand street; cut cheek, lip and scalp; was
attended and went home.

MOFFITT, WILLIAM, 45, of 107 104th street, Richmond Hill; compound fracture
of both legs; possible internal injuries.

OVERBACH, LOUIS, 63, of 40 West Twenty-second street; abrasions of leg and
hand; was attended and went home.

PALERMO, FRANCES, 19, of 1109 Putnam avenue, Brooklyn; bruised nose; was
attended and went home.

PINCER, WILLIAM, 47, of 548 Bainbridge street, Brooklyn; bruised nose; was
attended and went home.

POLLETIS, INFER, 20, of 42 Mission avenue; both legs broken.

ROSE, MARY, 28, of 69 Patchen avenue, Brooklyn; contusions of body; was
attended and went home.

REICH, MRS. ROSE, 20, of 252 East Fourth street; bruised side and back; was
attended and went home.

ROTHMAN, YETTIE, 60, of 74 Rodney street; fracture and dislocated left
ankle; lacerations of left ankle; Gouverneur Hospital.

SCHREIECK, FRED, 17, of 142 Palmetto street; bruised spine; was attended
and went home.
SIMMER, JOHN, 35, motorman of the Broadway train, of 1341 Flushing avenue,
Brooklyn; bruised left leg and shock; a prisoner in Bellevue Hospital.

SOEFFER, MRS. REBECCA, 35, of 30 Sumner avenue, Brooklyn; lacerations of
both feet; at Gouverneur Hospital.

SOEFER, MORRIS, 30, of 30 Sumner avenue, Brooklyn; both legs broken.

STEINBERG, HARRY, 60, of 4023 Bedford avenue, Brooklyn; compound fracture
of both legs; at Gouverneur Hospital.

TUCKER, ANNA, 18, of 374 South Second street, Brooklyn; contusions of the
legs; was attended and went home.

VARNEY, GRACE, 23, of 1089 Bushwick avenue, Brooklyn; contusions of the
leg; was attended and went home.

VICOTNICK, ISIDOR, 20, of 374 South Second street, Brooklyn; internal
injuries, possible fracture of the skull and lacerations of the head.

WANK, PEARL, 22, of 215 Roebling street, Brooklyn; concussion of the brain;
Bellevue Hospital.

WEINBERG, DAVID, 18, of 84 South Tenth street, Brooklyn; lacerations of the
left leg and puncture of the right ankle; Gouverneur Hospital.

WEINSTEIN, SAMUEL, 30, of 403 Hewes street, Brooklyn; contusions of the
chest; was attended and went home.

WEISS,EVELYN, 18, of 32 McKibben street, Brooklyn; shock and bruised body;
was attended and went home.

WEISS, CAROLINE, 17, of 32 McKibben street, Brooklyn; shock and bruised
body; was attended and went home.

WEISSMAN, SAM, 22, of 111 Upton street, Brooklyn; bruised leg; was attended
and went home.

YERKES, PEARL, 20, of 63 Howard avenue; right arm hurt; attended at
Bushwick Hospital, Brooklyn, and went home.

ZABLUDSKY, AARON, 17, of 57 McKibben street, Brooklyn; lacerated face; was
attended and went home.

ZEIGLER, SAMUEL, 365 South Fourth street, Brooklyn; bruised head; was
attended and went home.

Transcribed by :
Michael E. Donnelly.