Elmer E. Nelson


From:  The Times, February 17, 1921


Another young life paid the extreme penalty Tuesday night for the dangerous practice of riding trains in an unlawful manner.  Elmer E. Nelson, aged 17, employed as a barber in this city, fell under an L & N freight train directly in front of the depot and was instantly killed, the body being horribly mangled.

Young Nelson in company with Arthur Chelf, William Biggerstaff, and Maurice Campbell, started to Dahlgren on train No. 58.  As the train had no empties on it and nothing to ride but the bumpers, they left it shortly after passing out of the city and boarded No. 57 going east.  This train they rode to Carmi and returned on No. 80, a fast train which goes through her at about 6:30 p.m.

This train had to make Dahlgren in order to pass No. 93 coming east and went through here at a good speed, so fast, in fact, that the other boys in the crowd, who were more experienced, saw the danger attempting to alight and stayed on the train until it got to Dahlgren, returning on No. 93.

Young Nelson attempted to get off directly in front of the depot on the concrete platform.  Willard Thompson of the depot force, was on the platform at the time, but did not see him until he was under the wheels.  The body was rolled and dragged a distance of about forty feet from where blood indicates the wheels first passed over the body.  The body was horribly mangled, one leg being cut into three pieces.  The clothing was almost stripped from him, the face being spared mutilation other than a few small scars and scratches.

The remains were gathered up and taken to Sneed's undertaking rooms and prepared for shipment to his home in Enfield.  Deceased's father and uncle arrived on the morning train and took the body to Enfield yesterday.

The young man was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jasper Nelson, of Enfield, and a nephew of John M. Sneed, of this city.  He was a barber by trade and has been employed by Newt ONeal.  He was well like by everyone who had made his acquaintance, and especially by the patrons of the shop.  Tuesday afternoon when this trip was being planned, Mr. ONeal and others urged him not to go, telling him that he was not experienced enough to undertake getting on and off moving rains, and that something dreadful might befall him.  But, boy like, he knew better than any one else, and paid for his experience with his life.

The bereaved parents and relatives have the sympathy of the entire community, and it is hoped that other boys will profit by the terrible accident and quit this dangerous practice.  It is not only dangerous but a violation of the law and carries a severe penalty.

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