Two Well Known Astoria Men Killed At Kost Railroad Crossing New Years Evening

Ray H. Cassel And Charles Brown Drive Heavy Truck Into Side Of Moving Freight Train; Funerals Were Held Sunday

Another terrible tragedy occurred at the Kost railroad crossing, two miles south of Vermont, Thursday evening, when a truck crashed into a north bound freight rain, resulting in the death of Ray Cassel and Charles Brown, the latter a retired section worker. Both men were life long residents of Astoria.

Mr. Cassel and Mr. Brown, who were engaged in buying timber, were returning from Vermont at about 6:15 o’clock in a truck they used to haul logs. Mr. Cassel was driving the truck. There was a blinding snowstorm and it is believed the driver’s vision was impaired by the driving snow. The snow was not heavy, but the wind was strong, whirling it heavily at times.

The truck crashed into the train about three car lengths back of the engine, breaking the air, which caused a sudden stopping of the train.

Mr. Cassel died at the accident scene and Mr. Brown was taken to the St. Francis hospital, Macomb, where he passed away seven hours later. Brown suffered fractures of right arm and left leg, his skull had been fractured and injured about the right side and chest. He was taken to the hospital in the Leighty ambulance from Vermont. Dr. Frank Karg of Vermont was called to the accident scene. He pronounced Cassel dead on his arrival.

Mr. Cassel suffered a broken arm, broken leg, abdominal injuries, together with internal injuries. He lived but a few seconds after help arrived. He was lying on the east side of the road, while Brown was lying on the west side, both near the track.

Lyle Brock, a trucker, arrived at the accident scene a short time after the crash. He was going south and was on the same side of the track the accident occurred. Seeing what had happened, he rushed in his truck to the home of Zeb Kost, which is only a short distance. Both men returned to give whatever aid they could.

Mr. Kost recognized Mr. Brown, who was calling for help. Mr. Brown was conscious and knew Mr. Kost when he told him who he was. He said to Mr. Kost: “My God, Zeb, help me, I am freezing to death.” He asked Mr. Kost where Ray was, meaning Mr. Cassel.

After blankets were procured Mr. Brown was rushed to the hospital in Macomb.

The body of Mr. Cassel was removed to the Shawgo Memorial Home in Astoria, where an inquest was held Friday evening at 5:30, conducted by Dr. Mark S. Nelson, Fulton county coroner. The jury was composed of J. H. Gruber, J. G. Nicol, A. N. Price, Walter Webb, Geo. Price, and Dan Johnson.
Witnesses examined were: Zeb Kost, Jesse McCormick, and Dr. Frank Karg. After hearing the testimony of the three witnesses, the jury returned the following verdict:

“We, the jury, find that R. H. Cassel came to his death at the Kost crossing of the C. B. & Q. railroad, on blacktop road, Astoria and Vermont road, in the township of Astoria, County of Fulton and State of Illinois, at about 6:20 p.m. Jan. 1st, 1942. Death was due to crushing of the entire body and semi-evisceration, accidentally sustained when the truck he was driving ran into extra freight, No. 6122 of the C. B. & Q. railroad, accident having occurred at the time and place above mentioned.”

An inquest was held for Mr. Brown in Macomb at the Dodsworth Funeral Home by Coroner Wm. T. Yates. Witnesses were: Zeb Kost, Jesse McCormick, who was on the scene a moment after the wreck occurred, W. S. French of Beardstown, conductor on the train and Dr. Millet, who attended Mr. Brown.

The jury returned a verdict quite similar to the one returned at Astoria. The jury recommended that flasher signals be installed at the crossing where the crash occurred. The body was brought to the Cline Horton Funeral Home in Astoria.

The crossing, where this accident is located in a sort of a ravine, with two grades on either side. It is protected by the usual rural train crossing signals — a sign or a cross-arm with reflector buttons. This is the same crossing where four persons were killed last July when the automobile they were in crashed into a moving freight. They were also driving south at the time.

Ray H. Cassel

Ray H. Cassel, was born at Astoria, on Dec. 22, 1898, a son of William W. and Lucy Hamm Cassel. At the time of his death he was aged 43 years and 9 days.

He was married in 1921 to Leta Anderson. To this union were born six children: Robert, William, Charles, Mary Sue, Lois Anne, and James E., all at home.

Besides the wife and children, he is survived by his father, one sister, Mrs. Myrna Kost of Ipava, a half sister, Mrs. Anna Regan of Bartonville, a half brother, Jesse Cassel of Astoria.

Funeral services were held at the Methodist church Sunday afternoon at 2:15, conducted by Rev. H. Sheldon Pattison. Interment in the Astoria cemetery.


Published in the Argus-Searchlight on 1/7/1942


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