Prince William County Virginia Clerk’s Loose Papers

Hugh W. Crockett another witness called on behalf of the plaintiff, being duly sworn, testified as follows

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Hugh W. Crockett another witness called on behalf of the plaintiff, being duly sworn, testified as follows:


By Mr. Mackey:

Q. Mr. Crockett, what is your present employment? Answer – My present employment is brakeman and extra conductor on the Washington & Old Dominion Railway.

Q. How long have you been a railroad man, Mr. Crockett? Answer – I have been a railroad man thirteen years.

Q. How long did you work for the Southern Railway? Answer – I worked for the Southern Railway eleven years.

Q. Did you ever work for the C & O ? Answer – No, sir.

Q. You have no employment now with the Southern Railway or the C & O Railway? Answer – No, sir.

Q. In what capacity did you work during the eleven years you worked with the Southern Railway? Answer – As brakeman and baggage master and flagman.

Q. What position did you hold with the Southern Railway on February 23, 1915, when the accident occurred at Bristow that we are talking about. Answer – Baggage master.

Q. Where were you at the time of the collision? Answer – I was in the baggage car.

Q. How many cars were attached to that engine? Answer – There were two cars.

Q. Will you state what they were? Answer – The combined car, baggage, passenger and passenger coach.

Q. The baggage car was next to the engine, I believe? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. And you were in that car? Answer – I was in that car, yes, sir.

Q. About what time did this collision occur? Answer – About 6:30, I reckon.

Q. What effect did it have on the lights in your train? Answer – The lights went out in the car I was in, I think. I would not be positive about that.

Q. What effect did that collision have on those who were inside of the cars, as regards shock? Answer – They would be very badly jarred.

Q. Was there anyone in the car with you? A. No, sir.

Q. Were you thrown to the floor, or thrown down? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. About what distance were you thrown, Mr. Crockett? Answer – I reckon about fifteen feet, the length of the car.

Q. The length of the baggage car? Answer – The length of the baggage car.

Q. State whether or not the car you were in and the passenger car in the rear of it were injured in any way? A. Yes, sir, both cars were injured.

Q. In what way? What was the condition of them after the wreck? Answer – The car I was in the trucks were torn out and half turned over, and the windows were torn out right smart in the rear car.

Q. Do you know the condition of the front end of the rear car? Answer – No, sir, I could not say the condition of that, but I think it was mashed up some.

Q. Did you see Mr. Sullivan immediately after the wreck? Answer – No, sir, I can’t say I saw him immediately after.

Q. When did you see him? Answer – I saw him the next afternoon.

Q. What was his condition then? Answer – He was very badly bruised about the chest is all I know, from what he showed me.

Q. Did he show you his chest? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Do you know whether his arm was in the sling or not? Answer – He had his arm in a sling, yes sir.

Q. During the eleven years you worked for the Southern Railway, state whether or not you were examined regularly for your fitness? Answer – Yes, sir, I was examined as regularly as it came up.

Q. Does your business as brakeman require you to have knowledge of the trucks and their construction? Answer – Yes, sir to see that they are in good order.

Q. Do you know what an arch-bar is on a truck? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Will you tell the jury what is known as an arch-bar? Answer – An arch-bar is -----

Court: May I interrupt you. Has this model an arch-bar on it?

Mr. Browning: We have not examined it.

Mr. Hall: Yes, sir.

Court: It would be so much easier for the jury if you have it.

Mr. Browning: We want to have a little understanding about it. We have had it examined, but

there is a little understanding we want to have with counsel before it is introduced.

Mr. Mackey: We don’t want to introduce it in evidence, but only use it for illustration.

Court: Would not it be easier, and save time?

Mr. Mackey: I think so.

Court: If you get it out I think it would help in that way, not admitting that it is a correct model.

Mr. Mackey: We would only want it for demonstration.

Court: The jury would understand so much better what is an arch-bar.

Mr. Browning: This is not introduced at this time as being a true representation.

Court: I will let him use it as if it was a drawing on the board to show what is an arch-bar. You

are through with him except about the mechanism?

Mr. Mackey: I was going to ask a number of questions about that.

Court: If these gentlemen want to take him on that, and let you have him back on that, will that


Mr. Mackey: I have not finished on my direct examination; there are some other matters.

Court: Then, go on with that.

By Mr. Mackey:

Q. Before pointing out what the arch-bar is, tell the jury what it is, in a general way? I want you to tell the purpose? Answer – The arch-bar is the part that goes to hold the trucks, and hold the box, and the whole weight of the car, and the boxes are bolted to that, and it holds it up.

Q. Have you, during your railroad experience as brakeman and baggage master, had occasion to see broken arch-bars? Answer – Yes, sir, I have seen them, but I have never been in a train with them.

Q. Have you seen them where they were unbolted, or broken off, or hanging down? Answer – Yes, sir. I have seen them, but not in motion.

Q. Have you seen them on many occasions, this defect on trains? Answer- Yes, sir. I have seen them. In the examination of trains I have come up with them.

Q. What effect would a broken arch-bar have on a moving train? Answer – It would drop the bed of the car on the wheels, and it would let the bar down on the wheels, and it is bound to cause a wreck if it is not stopped.

Q. What effect does it have on the axles of the trucks and wheels? Answer – The arch-bar holds the axles of the trucks up.

Q. What effect would a rough track have on the arch-bar? A. A rough track would have a tendency to bounce the car up and down, and cause a strain on the arch-bar.

Q. Do you know what a choppy track is? Answer – Answer – It is a very rough, choppy track.

Q. What effect would a choppy track have on it? Answer – It would have the effect to break it.

Q. What effect would the movement of the ties up and down have on the arch-bar? Answer – I don’t think the ties have much movement up and down. In a well ballasted track there would not be much movement of the ties up and down.

Q. Assuming those ties on the day of the accident, the ties of the northbound track of the Southern Railway, were in such condition when a freight train passed over it that the ties moved up and down, what effect would that have on the arch-bars? Answer – It would have a tendency to jar it so it would break or strain it.

Q. Now, I show you a model ---------

Mr. Browning: I understand this is for demonstration. That is all right if it is only for


Mr. Mackey: I will put that in the record. Q. Now, I show you a model of a truck which is used

here for the purpose of demonstration, and not in evidence at this time, and ask you to point out to the jury what is the arch-bar on that truck, on that model? Answer – This, gentlemen, is the arch-bar (indicating on model). Q. Now, look at this other side that has been disconnected in this model, and show the jury what the arch bar is? Answer – This is the arch-bar. Q. Now, what is this block that I show you? Answer – That is the box.

Court: In the truck that is iron, isn’t it, the piece you have in your hand? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. The model is wood, but the genuine piece is iron? Answer – Yes, sir.

Mr. Mackey: Now, put that on the axle, and put it in position with reference to the arch-bar.

(Witness does as requested)

Mr. Hall: You had better not twist this. The model is intended to stay as it is.

Witness: that is where it belongs, the same as it is here.

Mr. Mackey: Q. Showing you this model, what effect would it have if this arch bar became loose

at these bolts and fell down? Answer – It would have the same effect as a broken arch-

bar. Q. And which truck would run wild? Answer – This would. Q. This part (Indicating) Answer – Yes, sir. Q. assuming that a freight train going at the rate of 35 to 40 miles an hour, had on the rear end of the rear truck a broken arch, bar, or a disconnected arch-bar that was hanging down and striking the rails or ties, and a minute or two after that this train was wrecked, derailed; what, in your opinion as an expert, would you say was the cause of the wreck?

Mr. Browning: We object to that question, if your Honor please.

Court: Upon what ground?

Mr. Browning: First, that no foundation has been laid for the hypothetical question.

Mr. Mackey: We expect to follow it up. We asked it to let Mr. Crockett __

Mr. Browning: Secondly, this witness has not qualified as an expert to that extent.

Court: I will ask you, have you had sufficient experience, Mr. Crockett, to know what would be

the effect of the condition of a car as represented in the question asked?

Witness: I think so.

Court: I will overrule the objection; note an exception.

Mr. Mackey: Q. You have had eleven years experience? Answer – I have had fifteen years

experience in railroading all together. Q. What would the effect of a broken arch-bar on a moving train as regards the probability of it causing a wreck? Answer – It would be bound to cause a wreck if not discovered. Q. Your answer is it would be bound to cause a wreck if not discovered? Answer – Yes, sir.

Mr. Mackey: The witness has not exactly answered the hypothetical question. Read it.

The question is read as follows: “Assuming that a freight train going at the rate of 35 to

40 miles an hour, had on the rear end of the rear truck a broken arch, bar, or a disconnected arch-bar that was hanging down and striking the rails or ties, and a minute or two after that this train was wrecked, derailed; what, in your opinion as an expert, would you say was the cause of the wreck? Answer – It would cause the wreck. Q. What? Answer – The arch-bar would cause the wreck.


By Mr. A. T. Browning:

Q. Mr. Crockett, do you know what the tie-bar is, of course you do? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What is the function of that bar? Answer – I don’t understand the question.

Q. What is the purpose of the tie-bar; what is it used for. Answer – That is simply to hold the box in place, so far as I can see. That is my opinion of it.

Q. That is its sole purpose, to hold the boxes in place? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What effect does the breaking of the tie-bar have upon the truck? Answer – It puts a right smart strain on the bolts that are holding the boxes in place.

Q. Does it not cause the journals to lean inwards? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. From the top? Answer – Yes, sir. The bottom of the box will spread out.

Q. What effect does that position have upon the column bolt and the journal box-bolt? Answer – Well, that tie-bar being broken on a rough track would weaken the arch-bar and cause it to be weaker than it would be without that.

Q. Would it cause a shearing at the end of the arch-bars? A. Yes, sir. It would cause it to raise up some, and might possibly break it.

Q. Would it break it or shear it? Answer – It might possibly break it.

Q. Which would it more naturally do, break it or shear it? Answer I think it would more naturally break it.

Q. Would that be the effect upon new column bolts? Answer – Oh, yes, sir, the column-bolts wouldn’t have anything to do with breaking the arch-bars.

Q. The breaking of the column-bolts would have nothing to do with the breaking of the arch-bars, you say? Answer- Yes, sir.

Q. Mr. Crockett, you have, in response to the examination in chief, arranged the arch-bar with reference to the box, as an expert; is that properly done? Answer – No, sir.

Q. What is the trouble with it? Answer – It is put in the wrong place.

Q. It is put in the wrong place? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Did you not show it to the jury in this condition? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. And did you not put it in that condition that it is now? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. You now say you were mistaken? Answer – I was mistaken in that, yes, sir.

Q. Show the jury how it ought to be, if you please? (Witness illustrates on model)

Q. It ought to be that way? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. When did you recognize your mistake? Answer – Just as soon as I made it.

Mr. Hall:

Q. Mr. Crockett, now that we have gotten the position of these arch-bars straight, will you tell me what effect, if any, the loosening of those box-bolts would have with respect to the action of the arch-bars? Would it tend to create a shearing motion? Answer – Yes, sir. It would jar some.

Q. It would tend to create a shearing motion just as much as you described, as a choppy track? Answer – Yes, sir, it would shear right smart if the bolts were loose.

Q. This piece would go up, and this piece would come down, and they would work like scissors? Answer – The box would work with the loose bolts.

Q. Then the weight of the car, you say, wouldn’t have any influence on the shearing of this; in other words, you testified that the weight of the car is on the bolster? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. If it gets loose, what effect does the movement of the car have on this piece of iron? Doesn’t it push it down? Answer – This bolt I don’t think would push it down, but the broken tie-bar would cause it to push down.

Q. You mean to say, then, that if these bolts were loose, or if these bolts were out, it would not have any effect --- Answer – (Interrupting) If the bolts were out, the whole wheel and box would go back.

Q. And there would be a motion backwards and forwards? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. The tendency of that motion would be cut the heads off those bolts? Answer – Yes, sir. In time I would

Q. Assume that those bolts were new and tight, would you say that running over a mile of track in bad condition could possibly cause a breaking of those bolts? Now, think of that question. Assuming those bolts to be new and tight and in proper condition, running over a mile of bad track, would it be possible to break those bolts? Answer – I don’t think it would.

Mr. Browning:

Q. Mr. Hall asked you assuming that those bolts were new and tight could the running of the car over one mile of bad track cause the shearing or breaking of those bolts, they being new and tight. You answered you didn’t think it could. Would that answer still hold if the tie-bar were broken. Answer – No, sir.

A. Halterman, another witness called on behalf of the plaintiff, being duly sworn, testified as follows:


By Mr. Patterson:

Q. What is your name? Answer – Aaron Halterman.

Q. Where do you reside? Answer – Bristow, Virginia.

Q. What relation, if any, are you to the plaintiff, William J. Sullivan? Answer – Well, sir, he married my daughter.

Q. Where does he live? Answer – He lives in Washington.

Q. Did you witness a collision between Southern Railway train and Chesapeake and Ohio train on the 23rd day of February, 1915? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Where were you at the time? Answer – I was right in Bristow, at Bristow Station.

Q. What were you doing there? Answer – I went there to meet Mr. Sullivan and my daughter, his wife. He sent a telegram to me that day, on the 23rd, I think it was, of February, 1915, to meet him there.

Q. Was the train on time? Answer – Well, Now, I disremember, but it wasn’t far from it.

Q. How far from the place of the collision is Bristow Station? Answer – Why, I would suppose it is one-third of a mile. I have looked over the distance; I never measured it, but distance is a little further generally than it looks, but I would judge one-third of a mile, and maybe a little more.

Q. You saw it? Answer – I stood right in front of the depot door. We saw it coming; You can see it when it leaves Manassas, see the headlight, and it was getting on the duskish order, a little dark, but you could see. A C&O freight went past, and I supposed they met almost in the bridge, but they didn’t. The freight had gotten through the bridge, but they met probably 100 yards below, and that is where the accident was.

Q. When the C&O passed Bristow Station did you observe anything unusual about its speed? Answer – Why, different ones did. I was the first man that said that it couldn’t help but wreck the way it was running. It was the fastest freight I ever saw.

Q. State what you observed and what you said? Answer – That was my opinion.

Q. How fast, in your opinion , was this C&O freight train moving? Answer – I couldn’t tell you.

Q. Did you observe anything else out of the ordinary about this train as it passed? Answer - No, I don’t think I did, not that I recollect.

Q. After the collision did you go to the place where it occurred? Answer – Yes, sir. You see I had taken my buggy there to the station waiting for them. We knew that they were going to come, if nothing happened. When we saw the wreck, my wife and I were there, and I wanted her to go along down.

Court: He wants to know did you go down to the wreck? Ans. Yes, sir.

By Mr. Patterson:

Q. Did you see Mr. Sullivan there? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Where did you see him? Answer – I found him right in the broken coach, where he come in from Washington, but I had hard trouble getting to him then because it was so piled up it was hard to find the way in.

Q. Describe the condition of this coach in which you found him? Answer – I will tell you, I can’t describe it to you in any form at all, because I didn’t look at it much. I saw it was crushed up terribly. I made mention

Q. You need not say what you mentioned. What parts did you observe were broken, Mr. Halterman? Answer – I didn’t see much but what was all broken; it hung together and staid on the track, and that was about all.

Q. Were the lights out or not? Answer – No. There were lights in there when I got in. I don’t suppose the lights had been quite knocked out in that car, unless they re-lit them.

Q. What was the condition of the windows and doors? Answer – The windows were all crushed up. I noticed one seat that I believe there was almost a gallon of crushed glass on it that had been knocked out by a piece of lumber that had been run by the C&O freight into that car.

Q. What was the size of that piece of lumber? Answer – I don’t know; it was a piece, - I don’t know whether it was more than eight or ten feet long, and I don’t know whether it was a whole piece or not, as it was shipped. Things were broken up so, and I paid so little attention to the broken stuff, because I was trying to look up the hurt people.

Q. Was there any other lumber in that vicinity anywhere around that you saw? Answer – Yes sir, there was lumber there where the train had wrecked on the car.

Q. Where was that lumber car at the time? Answer – It was laying right against the car, against 17, the passenger coaches that were on the track. Some of it laid against it, and I disremember whether it laid on the other side or not, but it was all a perfect jamb there, and it was after dark, and at that time I didn’t pay but little attention to what was bunged up there. Next morning I went down about daylight, or a little after, and there were a right smart things changed in that time.

Q. Immediately after this accident just state in your own way the general condition of the two trains. Describe it to the jury, please? Answer – Well, what have you got reference to? To which one had wrecked?

Q. Just what you saw , Mr. Halterman? Answer – I can state what I saw and think about it. I couldn’t see how anybody ---

Q. Never mind about that

Court: Tell what you saw. We don’t want what you think about it; it would not be evidence.

Answer – All I have to say, then, is to say what I saw. I saw a wrecked train and a couple of hurt people. That is all I can tell. Mr. Sullivan was going on terrible. I thought he would die before fifteen minutes.

By Mr. Patterson:

Q. Where did you find Mr. Sullivan? Answer – He was in the car towards Washington. There might have been three coaches to the train, because it is a short train, 17, has hardly ever got over three coaches. I think I found him in the second coach, if there were three, and he might have been in the middle one, but I didn’t look about it much. I found him badly hurt, and Dr. Wine was in the car when I got in. I told him if he could do anything for that hurt man he should do it, and he said that he would do it as quick as he could, and he said, “I have another who is hurt just as much as he is”, and that was the fireman.

Court: Never mind about that.

By Mr. Patterson:

Q. How long after you told Dr. Wine that did he treat Mr. Sullivan? Answer – It might have been fifteen minutes.

Q. Where was Mr. Sullivan when you found him? Answer – Kind of propped up or lent up against the side of the wall of the crushed coach that he was in, holding to the seat.

Q. To which side? Answer – To the right side as you came in.

Q. Where was the baby? Answer – An old lady had it, I think.

Q. Did Mr. Sullivan have the baby in his arms at that time? Answer – No, sir, he didn’t have it. His wife was with him, and she was standing propped up against the seat in some way.

Mr. Hall: We object to testimony about his wife. Q. What was done to Mr. Sullivan then?

Answer – I think people taken him out and carried him and put him in my buggy, and from there my hired man, that I had working for me, taken him to my place. Q. What did you observe as to his condition after you had gotten him home? Answer – Well, we got a doctor there as quick as we could, and it wasn’t but a little time until there was a couple more came; Dr. Iden was one.

Mr. Hall: This is not what he observed.

Court: I know it is hard to hold you down to what you saw, but just state what you saw.

Witness: I will not aim to tell anymore.

By Mr. Patterson:

Q. Tell just what you saw after you got him home? Answer – We got him home, and in a little time he was going on terrible, and they wanted his shirt off to see his hurt shoulder. Dr. Wine said that it was dislocated

Mr. Browning: Not what he said.

Court: Didn’t I tell you a little while ago not to state what people said?

Mr. Patterson: I think he said after Dr. Wine made a statement.

Court: If you want to tell what the doctor said, don’t do that.

Witness: That is all I can tell you.

By Mr. Patterson:

Q. What did you see done about Mr. Sullivan? Answer – I seen the doctor take him and take his shirt down and examine his arm. Mr. Iden did that, and Dr. Wine told him and said -----

Q. Never mind about that; did Mr. Sullivan complain of any pain? Answer – Oh, yes, sir, very much.

Q. What? Answer – He didn’t know what did hurt him, I reckon, in the first place; he was going on terrible.

Q. What did he say? Answer – Well, I disremember.

Q. What do you mean by saying that he was going on terrible? Answer – He seems to be in very much punishment with his hurt.

Q. How long did he remain at your house, Mr. Halterman? Answer – He was there eight days, I think.

Q. Continuously? Answer – Well, he tried to go, and there was someone went with him to Washington one trip, I think, to the hospital.

Q. Did he go to Washington more than once? Answer – I disremember.

Q. Was his arm placed in a sling? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Did you observe any passage of blood from him? Answer – No sir.

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