- photos from the collections of the Ohio County Public Library Archives
- newspaper article from The Wheeling Register, Friday, October 29, 1926
HOUSE STOPS RUNAWAY TROLLEY
DRIFTED LEAVES BELIEVED CAUSE OF CRASH
Prevented Functioning of Mozart Car Brakes, Theory Advanced
Motorman Dead, 12 Injured in Wild Dash
Exact cause of the fatal accident on the Mozart Park traction line in which one man was killed and 12 injured may never be known.
Frank E. Eberlein, 68, motorman of the runaway car, who died at his post, is probably the only man who could have accounted for the wild flight of his car down the steep Mozart grade which ended when it left the rails at a curve at 6:25 yesterday morning and crashed into the store of Leo Pack, plowing halfway through the two-story frame building. And Eberlein's story will never be told.
The most likely theory, according to A. C. Spurr, general superintendent of the Wheeling Traction company, is that drifted leaves may have temporarily prevented the brakes from holding, permitting the car to gain momentum which could not be checked. The fact that the car had already made one trip and had been stopped part way down the hill for a passenger would support this theory, Mr. Spurr says.
Scene In Car Described
Motorman Eberlein made heroic efforts to avert the disaster. Applying both brakes in a futile attempt to check the speed of his car he turned to his passengers with a despairing look. "She's gone, boys! I can't hold it," he cried.
The car rocked wildly as it rushed ahead, gathering speed. It is said there was no panic among the passengers. Cooler heads advised against rushing for the doors.
Sensing the impending disaster, some of the men threw themselves flat on the floor with their feet to the front of the car. Others followed their example.
Through it all, Motorman Eberlein grimly held to his position. One hand raised above his crushed and mangled body still grasped a brake handle when his body was removed from the wrecked car two hours after the crash.
Eleven passengers and Conductor Joseph Gaus were injured. They were:
- Joseph Gaus, 46, 2334 Charles street, conductor; fractured leg, cuts and bruises, taken to the Ohio Valley General Hospital.
- Louis Riedel, 40, Mozart Hill, manual training teacher at Union high school, badly bruised. Taken to hospital.
- William Stroebel, 31, Wabash street, taken to hospital. Not seriously hurt.
- Albert Federmeyer, 25, Mozart, taken to hospital. Not serious.
- Mrs. Minnie Jones, Route 6 Mozart, taken to hospital. Not serious.
- William Beaver, Mozart Heights, bruised and cut, taken home.
- Alphonse Federmeyer, Mozart, cuts and bruises. Taken home.
- George R. Remke, 50, Mozart, scalp would, fractured rib. Taken to hospital.
- Carl Randall, 37, Mozart Hill, taken to hospital. Not serious.
- Mrs. Lena Beaver, Mozart, shock. Taken home.
- Ivan Klinger, 19, Mozart, broken wrist. Taken home.
- William Janeski, Mozart, injuries slight.
Two of the young children of Mr. and Mrs. Pack escaped injury when the floor of their room broke through as the car broke through the building.
Crowds Flock to Scene
News of the accident brought crowds of persons rushing to the scene. Within a half hour traffic was blocked in the Right Hand Run road by lines of automobiles.
Jammed tightly between sections of the building the forward end of the street car where Motorman Eberlein's body lay could not be cleared by a traction company relief crew for more than two hours. In the city ambulance and volunteer automobiles the worst injured were hurried to the Ohio Valley General Hospital, while others were removed to their homes after first aid treatment in nearby homes.
The car in the accident was No. 28, one of the four taken over from the City railway by City Manager Kirk and later leased to the Wheeling Traction company, known as the Mozart Park Railways Company.