Shelby County Indiana
An Unidentified Newspaper
Madge Britton, was killed in a horrific train wreck in Brookfield, Indiana on Sunday, October 14, 1923. She was the mother of 7 year Mary Rosamond Britton, also killed in the accident. Her husband, Roy Britton was also in the car, and was the only surviver [sic—survivor].
Nine persons of a Shelby County family were killed and one slightly hurt, Sunday morning about eleven o'clock, when a Big Four passenger train going west, crashed into an automobile in which ten persons were riding. The accident occurred at a grade crossing in Brookfield, Moral Township, Shelby County.
The dead were:
James William Means, a land owner and wealthy farmer, of near London, Shelby County. He was 72.
Eliza Jennie Means, his wife and mother of Byron. She was 50.
Byron Means, age 13, son of James William and Eliza Jennie Means. He died at the scene.
Mrs. Madge Britton, wife of Roy Britton, and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Means. She was 25.
Mary Rosamond Britton, seven year old daughter of Madge and Roy Britton.
Mrs. Jennie McGuire, sister-in-law of Mrs. Means. She was 28. Mrs. McGuire was taken to Union Station and died before she could be taken to Methodist Hospital.
Mayme Gaither, of Eckerly, Indiana, formerly a nurse at the Central Hospital for the Insane, at Indianapolis. She was 18, and died at the crash site.
Goldie Gaither, also of Eckerly, Indiana, and formerly a nurse at the Central Hospital for the Insane, at Indianapolis. She was 20, and also died at the crash site.
Marjorie Pearl McGuire, four year daughter of Mrs. Jessie McGuire. She died at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. She was thrown more than 50 feet. Several of her ribs were fractured, and the broken ends had penetrated her lungs in several places.
Roy Britton, age 25, received bruises and several scratches on the body, and was hurt about the shoulders. His escape was considered miraculous. He was unable to explain how he was saved from the fate of his family and relatives.
The automobile was thrown about 30 feet, some 10 feet to the north of the roadbed. The occupants were hurled from the car, lighting along the right of way for about 100 feet. The car was stripped of wheels, fenders, body and hood. Parts of the body, crumpled sheets of metal, were thrown in all directions. The stripped chassis, only slightly bent by the impact, rested flat on the ground. After the crash, he ran along the side of the tracks and found Mr. Means lying by the side of the chassis, only a short distance from the crossing. He was conscious and according to Mr. Britton, asked if all of the others had been killed, and then pointed to a hole that had been cut in his head. Mr. Means murmured, "It's my fault," just an instant before he died.
The ten persons, all riding in the car driven by Mr. Means, had attended Sunday school at the Baptist Church at Brookfield. There were on their way home, and only a few hundred yards from the church when the accident happened. Mr. Means was hard of hearing, and witnesses say he must not have heard or seen the approaching train, and drove his car on the tracks directly in front of the train. Mr. Britton said he was unable to remember much of what had happened, but he was in the front seat of the automobile, at the side of Mr. Means, and Byron Means was sitting on his lap. The women and other children were in the rear seat.
The dead and injured were lying along the side of the railroad tracks for a distance of more than fifty feet. Byron was caught in the drive-wheel of the train engine, and both his feet had been severed, and he was thrown to the side of the track about 40 feet from the crossing. The body of Mrs. Means was thrown further than any of the others. Her body was found lying in a ditch about 100 feet from the crossing. Mrs. McGuire's body was leaning against a signal post, about 50 or 60 feet down the track. Two of the victims, Golda Gaither and the little McGuire girl were still alive. They were rushed to Methodist Hospital, but Golda Gaither died on the way to the hospital and Marjorie Pearl McGuire died at the hospital.
Contributed by Phyllis Fleming and Betty Kitchen
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