The photo above shows what the crossing looked like shortly after the accident occurred. (Collection of Dean Wilson)
Today A Memorial Sits Near The site of the crash in Spring City remembering the victims of the tragic accident.
On August 22, 1955, school children hurriedly ran from the school to board their bus for the usual ride home. One particular Rhea County School bus contained 47 students and the bus driver, eleven of those children never made it home.
The driver of the bus, Raymond Moore, was a farmer who had started driving a school bus at the beginning of the school year. Upon leaving the grounds of the school, the bus traveled a couple of blocks and turned onto New Lake Road, where the bus traveled a short distance to cross Hwy 27 to where it would approach and cross the Southern Railway train tracks. At the time of the crash, the crossing consisted of bells and lights without gates.
The investigation that followed indicated that the bus driver had tried to “beat the train” resulting in the rear of the bus being struck by the southbound freight train. According to reports when the engineer saw that the bus was not going to stop before crossing the tracks, he slammed the brakes into full emergency mode in an attempt to slow down the 45mph train. The engineer's actions failed, and the train engine collided with the rear half of the bus causing the bus to rip open.
The injured children were transported by ambulances and private vehicles to nearby hospitals in Dayton and Rockwood. With 47 children on board, 16 were not injured, leaving 31 students injured or killed.
The bus driver - Raymond Moore was not injured in the accident and was later charged and tried with involuntary manslaughter and found guilty and sentenced to one year in jail.
Thirty-nine women from Spring City who were part of the Parent Teacher Association went straight to the governor to protect the safety of children everywhere. The women petitioned Gov. Frank Clement to require all school buses to stop, look and listen at railroad crossings. Within a month, the State of Tennessee had adopted the law. Within a year, this became a law nationwide.
The victims of the crash were initially memorialized with a Memorial Fountain at the Spring City Elementary School where it stood for 50 years until the school was torn down to make way for a new school which was built on that site.
In honor of the 50th anniversary, the children and women were remembered and honored with the dedication of a new monument (shown above) Saturday, Aug. 20, 2005, on the south lawn by the Spring City Depot. The Spring City United Methodist Church rang its bell 11 times in memory of the 11 children lost in that tragic accident.
Students Who Perished in The Accident
Mary Elizabeth Ball, Everett Edwards, Jr., Rose Mary Gideon, James Leon Hackler, Edward Muriel Hartbarger, Wallace Sanders Hartbarger, Charlotte Ann Marshall, Sherry Diane Mincey, Jerry Mincey, Rickey Phillips and Max Phillips.
Other Students On The Bus Who Were either Injured or Unhurt.
Francis Crisp, Bobby Crisp, Bill Fugate, Walter Boles, Douglas Nave, Larry Daniels, James O'Dear, Pat O'Dear, Homer O'Dear, Wanda Lee England, Clifford Edwards, Linda Edwards, James Gideon, Max Rector, Ralph Fine, Barbara Harris, Wilma Jean Mincey, John Mincey, Thelma Mooneyham, Ray Edwards, Larry McClure, Diane Horne, Basil F. McArthur, Joe Clark, Charles Edwards, Linda Powers, Ricky Wolfe, Patty Riddle, J. R. Baker, Ruth Fine, Ellen Ezell, Billy Hammonds, Linda Phillips, Shirley Hicks, Sandra Hicks and Jean Edwards.
Copyright All Rights Reserved -Yesterday In Dayton
Please Consider using The Social Media Buttons Below To Share This Story So Others May See It.