4 Camden Teenagers Killed In Car Dive From Berlin Span

Rescuers Stand By Helplessly waiting for power to be turned off, as four dead teenagers lay in convertible. The car plummeted 25 feet to the ground near PRSL tracks at Jackson st. bridge, Berlin. It fell into high-tension railroad wires used to operate signal lights and grade-crossing bars. according to police.

Camden Courier-Post – March 19, 1963

Driver, 5 Others Survive

Four Camden teenagers were killed and six others injured shortly after 8 p.m. Monday when the car in which they were riding crashed off a bridge in Berlin Borough.

The dead were identified by state police as:

The driver, William Hummel, 21, of 1033 Bergen ave., was admitted to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in serious condition with head and internal injuries and cuts.

Power Lines Hit

State police at Berlin barracks said the 1962 convertible, purchased by Hummel two weeks ago, ran out of control and crashed through a guardrail on the Jackson rd. bridge and fell 25 feet in a maze of 6,600-volt, high-tension railroad signal wires. The car landed on the ground near the tracks of the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines.

Police said they could not approach the wrecked car, which landed on its roof, for more than 30 minutes while waiting for power to be turned off.

Six of the youths, including Hummel, either were thrown from the car or crawled out of the wreckage. The four who died remained trapped in the car.

Pole Severed

After power was cut off a utility pole which carried the wires had to be severed at its base to allow the car to be turned over. The car had nestled between the pole and under-structure of the bridge.

Treated at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital were Edward Murtaugh, 16, of 1169 Bergen ave., cuts; David McBride, 15, of 3106 River ave., hand cuts and back injury. Both were released.

Released after treatment at Cooper Hospital were Carol McKee, 15, of 1234 N. 25th st., arm injury; John Latko, 16, of 2871 Harrison ave., arm injury, and Joseph Rotchford Jr., 16, of 931 N. 20th st., back injury.

According to Latko and Rochford, a group of teenagers were in Tony’s luncheonette at 28th st. and River ave. about 7:15 p.m. and decided to “take a ride” in Hummel’s newly acquired light-colored convertible.

Six boys and four girls piled into the car and they drove to Berlin Borough, stopped for gasoline and headed back to Camden along Jackson rd., the same route they traveled on the way down.

The boys said the car was traveling “about 35 to 45 miles per hour” as it approached a stretch were Jackson rd. swerves sharply to the left as it bridges the PRSL tracks.

The car “didn’t cut its wheels,” the boys told newsmen at the hospital and it zoomed straight ahead off of the side of the bridge. The boys said they kicked the door open and crawled out with Carol McKee.

Wires Sparking

“The wire was sparking and we could feel current going through our bodies when we climbed out,” said Latko.

The youths attracted attention by throwing stones through windows at the Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. plant on Jackson rd. Employes called police and ambulances.

Murtaugh, McBride, Rotchford, Shelley and Latko are 10th grade pupils at Woodrow Wilson High School, police said.

Attended Junior High

All three girls who died as the result of the accident attended Veterans’ Memorial Junior High School.

The Sviben girl was the daughter of Lawrence and Martha Sviben. She was a seventh grade pupil at Veterans and attended St. Anthony of Padua Church at 28th and River ave. Other survivors are three brothers and four sisters. They are Lawrence 23, Dennis 16, Mark 3, Patricia 9, Sharon 4, Martha 2 and Dawn 6 months.

Miss Marren was an eight grade pupil at Veterans and also attended Anthony of Padua Church. She was the only child of Evelyn and Joseph Marren. Her father is a warehouseman at the Wholesale Pipe and Supply Co., Pennsauken.

Miss Fitzpatrick was a seventh grade pupil at Vets, was one of five children of Mary and Fred Fitzpatrick. Her father is a truck driver. The other children include Mary Ann 19, Fred 16, Joseph 9, Thomas 5.

The Shelley youth and Ellen Marren were dead on arrival at Cherry Hill Hospital and the other two at Cooper Hospital.

Coroner Wooster said it was not immediately determined whether the youths died as a result of injuries received in the crash or were electrocuted. Tests will be made today to pinpoint the cause of death.


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