Thursday, December 17, 2009

Milwaukee Road Grade Crossing Wreck at Moses Lake

From the "Wenatchee Daily World."

January 5, 1955

A tattered and torn pocket Bible found among the wreckage along a railroad track where E.R. Zirker of Mae met death in a crossing smash at noon Tuesday provided a funeral text.

The Bible was carried 500 feet down the track from the point of impact and came to rest with its pages open. At the top of the right hand page was this verse: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (1st Corinthians, 55th verse, 15th Chapter)

The Bible was first noticed by Howard Light, Arden Farms truck driver, who called a reporter's attention to it.

The accident occurred at 12:02 pm Tuesday at the Milwaukee branch line crossing on PSH 18 about 10 miles east of Moses Lake. It was the first traffic fatality of the year in North Central Washington.

Zirker, 49, driving a 1954 flatbed truck with 10 head of calves on the truck, drove right into the front of the diesel locomotive and ten freight cars.

Zirker was thrown clear from the cab and hurled about 45 feet, and apparently was instantly killed. The truck, which was reduced to a splintered mass of wreckage, was carried 775 feet down the track before the train could be stopped.

Engineer Walter Krause, Malden, and Conductor H.R. Freeman, Malden, said the train was traveling about 26 miles an hour at the time of the accident. The crossing is protected by flashing light signals and visibility is good in both directions. The road was dry.

The train was going south and Zirker, driving a truck belonging to his brother, John E. Zirker, was driving east.

Members of the train crew and State Patrolman Larry Linnell who investigate the accident were at a loss to explain the cause of the accident.

Coroner Robert S. Campbell Jr. and Deputy Coroner Paul Klasen of Ephrata also assisted in the investigation.

The truck was totally demolished, $100 damage was done to one of the railroad signal lights, and $300 damage to the locomotive.

Zirker's brother, John E. Zirker, who lives about two miles from the scene of the accident, was called to the wreck and identified his brother. The body was removed to the Eccleston and Coy Funeral Home in Moses Lake.

Zirker is survived by three children at the home, and by two brothers, John E. Zirker, Moses Lake, and Julius Zirker, of Mae Valley.


Anonymous said...

Rest in peace Grandpa. Though we never met I've heard much about you from your Daughter and my Mother. Now reading this story where the first item found was your Bible puts many things into perspective. The pieces of history fall together...

'Til we meet again... God be with you 'til we meet again.

SDP45 said...

Thanks for posting. I'd love to hear your story someday. Your response left me teary-eyed.

All things work together for good for those who are the called according to His purpose.


Carol said...

It's a rather sad incident. It's a bit freaky that the Bible opened up at that page. My deepest condolences to the families of the deceased victims.