June 9, 1910
Harry E. Coombs, 45, a farmer living between New Carlisle and Tippecanoe City, his 13-year-old daughter, Lois, and a 9-year-old neighbor lad, Carl Wintrow, were instantly killed at 5:30 a.m. last Saturday morning by an inbound Big Four passenger station at the Findley street grade crossing in Dayton. The three were going to market and were seated in the front of the market wagon and were crushed in the twinkling of an eye. Coombs was thrown 200 feet, his neck broken and jaw fractured. The bodies of the children were gathered into the iron monster and crushed in its machinery. The horses were killed and the wagon and contents torn to bits. Eye witnesses cannot account for the accident except that by reason of the noise of a nearby factory Coombs failed to notice the approach of the train. Whether the whistle was blown or not they do not remember but insist that the train was running at least 50 miles an hour. There was no watchman at the crossing. The train was stopped about 500 feet beyond the scene and the crew and passengers returned to render assistance. Coombs was widely known and highly respected and the news spread widely and was received everywhere with horror and grief. Word reached the wife about 8 o'clock and the terrible tidings almost prostrated her. Various circumstances conspired to make the sorrow and the terrible sad news of the accident unusually deep. It was generally known that Mr. Coombs' venerable mother, Mrs. Sarah Coombs, was in an almost dying condition at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Flora McConnaughy, near Troy, and that it would be inconceivable to tell her of her son's tragic death. Mr. and Mrs. Noah Wintrow, parents of the boy, had lived in the neighborhood only a few weeks, having removed there from Ft. Recovery where they had suffered from an extraordinary series of misfortunes their home having been burned three times in as many years, the last time the family having narrowly escaped death. Besides his wife, the aged mother and his sister, Mr. Coombs is survived by his son Howard, aged 21, a graduate of Bethel high school, and a daughter Lucille, aged 17. The bodies of the three victims were all taken to the Coombs home where the funeral was held at 1 o'clock Monday afternoon. Long before the hour for service hundred of vehicles were stationed about the house and the crowd in attendance was estimated at 1,200. Nor was it an assemblage of the curious for a feeling of deep sorrow and sympathy prevaded the company gathered to pay a tribute of love and respect. There was no singing but the Rev Wood of the New Carlisle Presbyterian church read "Jesus Lover of My Soul." Rev. Leatherman of the German Baptist church read a passage of Scripture as also did Rev. Wood. The Rev. D. S. Ferguson of Troy read "Come, Ye Disconsolate," and preached from the text "From the ends of the earth will I cry unto Thee when I am overwhelmed. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I," from the 61st Psalm. Rev. Ferguson's talk while in no way biographical, was a very moving one and brought a measure of comfort to the saddened ones. Full of sincere yet eloquent sympathy it deeply impressed the vast audience. Rev. Leatherman also talked feelingly speaking particularly of the Wintrow lad. Two sad corteges left the Coombs home, one going to the Hickory Grove cemetery where Carl Wintrow was buried and the other bearing the father and daughter to the New Carlisle cemetery where another large crowd manifesting sorrow awaited. The procession of vehicles was said to have been over a mile long. Not in years has there been such a general manifestation of sympathy of an entire community. Sunday evening at the Coombs home while the three bodies lie waiting the funeral there was an explosion of the lighting plant in the basement which shook the entire house and seriously though not dangerously burned Howard Coombs and Clyde McConnaughey, who had gone to the cellar with a lantern to investigate why the pipes were empty of gas. Coroner W. H. Swisher of Montgomery county Thursday afternoon began taking testimony relative to the grade-crossing horror and will thoroughly investigate the matter.
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