Terrible accident near Christmas

Train accidents used to be a fairly common happening in Saranac Lake. On a very cold winter day my friend, the late Ed LaPoint, and I saw a train hit a milk truck at the Pine Street crossing. At that time there were a lot of milk trucks, going to all the cure cottages every day, and there were even more trains coming and going. Leon Cherrier was driving a Donnley’s milk truck when the accident happened. The only signal at the crossing was a bell with a light dinging noise that was hard to hear in a closed truck and the defrosters in those old vehicles didn’t clear the windows very well.

This was about 1944 and later railroad detectives came to question us about the accident.

Mr. Cherrier recovered quite well because my brother, Chic, can remember him later shooting pool down in Sam Sherman’s billard rooms at 16 Broadway.

Killed in a train wreck

According to a story in the Enterprise this train accident happened on Dec. 21, 1947here is the story:

“Earl Glenn Robbins, 22, of 9 Park Place was injured fatally and three others seriously hurt yesterday afternoon when the car in which they were riding was struck by the south-bound passenger train of the New York Central at McMaster’s crossing just North of the Lake Clear station.

“The tragedy occurred at 12:30 o’clock as the group was returning from a trip for Christmas trees for the holidays. The crossing is on the road which joins the Forest Home Road and the Lake Clear Highway.

“Richard F. Goodrich, 20, of 8 Pontiac Street, driver of the car, was seriously injured in the crash and his condition was listed as ‘fair’ this morning at The General Hospital.

“Goodrich is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Goodrich. He was reported to have suffered a possible fracture of the skull, lacerations of the head and severe shock.

“Gerald Dussek, 8, of 14 Pontiac Street, another occupant, suffered contusions and shock, while his father, Henry Dussek, 44, of the same address, sustained head injuries and shock. He was released this morning from the hospital.

“According to state police Robbins was riding in the rear right side of the car when the crash occurred at the crossing. Occupants were unaware of the train’s approach until it was too late and the crash sent the vehicle into a nearby field and demolished the car.

“The injured were placed in the baggage car and brought back to Saranac Lake where they were met at the station by an ambulance and removed to the hospital. Robbins was dead on arrival.

“Joseph LaDue of Faust [now better known as downtown Tupper Lake or simply The Junction] was engineer of the train which was enroute from Lake Placid to Lake Clear Junction station. The conductor was Earl Reynolds of Faust and the 2nd engineer was Floyd Fullerton of this village.

“The train, No. 148, is the passenger train out of this village on Sundays only and was operating on time. It was reported that the whistle had been sounded for the crossing but the train could not be stopped in time when the engineer spotted the car as he rounded the turn in the tracks.

“An inquest was held at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon by Coroner William A. Wardner. Robbins’ death was given as caused by a ruptured spleen. The body is reposing at the Keough Memorial chapel pending arrangements by the family.

“Robbins was born November 22, 1925 in Haverstraw, the son of Earl J. and Catherine Wagner Robbins. He had been making his home in Saranac Lake since last July when he was granted a leave of absence from his studies at Union College in order to undergo treatment for an eye infection.

“He was to have returned to his classes in February. Besides his parents he is survived by a sister, Miss Carol Robbins of Saranac Lake.”