Lodgepole Train Crash

Lodgepole, Nebraska

four are killed in car-train crash sunday

mother, three children grade crossing victims

machine driven by mrs. claude chambers is demolished, all occupants are fatally injured; funeral thursday afternoon

A mother and her three children were fatally injured in a car-train crash at Lodgepole Sunday afternoon, bringing to seven the number of persons killed in crossing accidents in this county since the first of the year.

Mrs. Claude Chambers, 21, wife of a well known Sidney Draw farmer, and her three small children, Sidney, 4, Stephen, 3, and Linda Gay, 2, died in Sunday’s accident when their car was struck at the west crossing in Lodgepole by westbound Union Pacific passenger train No. 7

The mother and two smallest children were dead when medical aid arrived. Sidney died while being rushed to a hospital.

The accident was witnessed by several people, including crew members of a freight train which had entered a siding to allow No. 7 to pass. Sheriff W. W. Schulz who investigated the crash, said it was the opinion of witnesses that Mrs. Chambers’ car had stalled on the tracks and that she was unable to get it started. Two of the children were crushed inside the car while the mother and the other child were thrown clear of the wreckage. A dog belonging to the Chambers also was killed.

First press reports issued from the scene of the crash said that the accident had been witnessed by Bill Miller, a barber at Lodgepole. However, Miller said that he did not see the wreck and did not arrive at the scene until some time after it had occurred.

The car was totally demolished by the terrific impact of the collision and debris was scattered along the tracks for several hundred yards.

The sheriff said that he was told that Mrs. Chambers had driven to Lodgepole to visit friends and discuss details of some rural youth work in which she was interested. She was on her way home when the accident occurred. The husband and father of the victims did not make the trip, preferring to remain at home to work in the fields.

According to a version of one witness, as related to the sheriff, two or three other cars had crossed the tracks just ahead of Mrs. Chambers and it appeared that she had plenty of time to cross because the train was still some distance away. However, she had slackened the speed of the car and it was reasoned that the engine died as she started across. A “jerking” motion indicated that the driver, in desperation, was attempting to move it by stepping on the starting apparatus.

Mrs. Chambers, the former Reah Weaver, was well known in Sidney. Her husband also is prominent, being a member of one of Sidney’s oldest families.

The accident was the fourth crossing mishap in Cheyenne county this year. Several weeks ago, three young people lost their lives when a streamliner hit their car at a grade crossing near Sunol.

Dr. R. E. Roche was called to Lodgepole Sunday, but found three of the victims dead when he arrived. Four year old Sidney was placed in an ambulance and rushed to a hospital here, but he died en route.

Dr. Roche said all of the victims were badly crushed.

Sheriff W. W. Schulz and Deputy Sheriff Arnold Braasch conducted the investigation of the crash and took pictures of the scene. Schulz said he was certain from interviews with persons at the scene that the young mother found it impossible to start the car, after it had stalled, and was desperately trying to move the machine with the starter as the train bore down upon them.

Bodies of the four victims were brought to the Gehrig Funeral Home in Sidney.

Reah Weaver was born at Mitchell, Nebr., and moved to Cheyenne county with her family in 1930. She was married to Claude Chambers at Harrisburg on Aug. 29, 1940. The three children, Sidney Anton, Stephen Leroy, and Linda Gay, were born to this union.

Funeral services for the mother and three children will be held this afternoon (Thursday) at two o’clock from the Gehrig Funeral Home, Rev. Harold Shay of the Episcopal church officiating. Internment will be in the family plot at Greenwood cemetery.

Mrs. Chambers is survived by her husband, her mother, Mrs. Nella Weaver; two brothers, Guy and Wayne; four sisters, Ruth, Freda, Lydas, and Patricia; and other relatives. Ruth is a member of the WACs.

The Telegraph (Sidney, NE) Thursday, June 14th, 1945