Obit: Smasal, Bruce, Douglas, Gregory, Roxanne (? - 1964)


Surnames: Smasal, Steinmetz, Lulloff, Brown, King, Diesche, Schultz, Kutsche, Bertz

----Source: THORP COURIER (Thorp, Clark County, Wis.) 02/06/1964

Smasal, Bruce, Douglas, Gregory, Roxanne (? - 1 FEB 1964)

A 68-year-old Stanley man and four of his grandchildren were killed instantly Saturday morning when a Sool Line freight engine rammed their car broadside on a town road crossing five miles west of Thorp. The man was returning his grandchildren to their farm home after they had attended Saturday catechism class at St. Anne's Catholic Church, Stanley.

Killed were: Henry Steinmetz, Sr., 68, of 328 Lincoln St., Stanley, Bruce Smasal - 9, Roxanne Smasal - 8, Douglas Smasal - 7, Gregory Smasal - 6.

All are children of Mr. and Mrs. Duane Smasal, Rot 3, Stanley, who live on a dairy farm one mile from the scene of the tragic accident. Mrs. Smasal was due home Saturday afternoon from a Marshfield Hospital where she underwent surgery on Monday.

The 43-car train, No. 23, was a special out of Stevens Point westbound for Chippewa Falls. A regularly scheduled eastbound freight passed the intersection about noon each day. There are no signal lights or bells at this crossing, although a black and white wooden crossing marker is present. According to Clark County officers no other fatal crashes have occurred at this crossing.

The Smasal's have three other children, James - 5, Lori - 2 and Mary Ann - 10 months. Steinmetz, father of Mrs. Smasal, and his wife were staying at the Smasal farm this week while Mrs. Smasal was hospitalized. She was due to come home Saturday afternoon.

Train engineer Harry Brown and fireman Le Roy King, both of Stevens Point, said they sounded the train whistle as they approached the crossing. King indicated the Steinmetz auto appeared to slow down but continued on it way across the single track crossing. The train conductor was V. Diesche of Stevens Point.

The car was struck on the right side, opposite the driver, and was dragged 97 feet before toppling into a 15 foot ditch below the tracks. All the bodies were not recovered until 1 1/2 hours after the accident.

Clark County Coroner Robert Lulloff of Neillsville said the four children and Steinmetz died instantly, Steinmetz was pinned beneath the wrechage and two children were thrown from the car.

The tracks at this crossing slope from east to west, and a moderate incline marks the road approach from both the south and the north. However, the gravel road is level on each side of the tracks and vision is unlimited in btoh directions. The train's engine sustained about $300 damage, according to Clark Co. Traffic officer Dale Schultz. Couplings on the engine front were severed. The engine stopped about one-third mile from the point of impact with the 1960 model Rambler. The train continued on it sway to Chippewa Falls shortly before noon, when the southbound freight was due.

The accident happened two miles inside the Clark County limits, and were the first highway fatalities in the county this year.

Investigating officers include, besides Lulloff and Schultz, Clark County Sheriff Ray Kutsche, and traffic officer David Bertz.

Smasal went tot he crossing and identified the bodies of his children and father-in-law. His wife was not told immediately of the accident.



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