Fireman Mistaking Order Jumps From Locomotive And Dies (4 January 1952)

Fireman Mistaking Order Jumps From Locomotive And Dies

John J. Counihan, Father of Two, Killed in Accident Near Rawlings

A new fireman was killed near Rawlings today when he misunderstood his engineer’s instructions and jumped from the cab of a big locomotive hauling a westbound Baltimore and Ohio extra freight train.

John Joseph Counihan, 34, of Route 5, Winchester Road, father of two children, leaped into the path of an eastbound extra freight heading toward Cumberland.

Dr. H. V. Deming, deputy county medical examiner, said Counihan suffered the loss of his left leg below the knee, a fractured skull and head laceration. He attributed death to loss of blood.

Asks For Blower

Chester F. Williams, superintendent of the railroad’s Cumberland Division, filed this report to Baltimore headquarters:

“The Engineer reached for the injector to turn fresh water into the boiler an found the handle had become disconnected. The train was moving slowly so he left his seat and stepped out on the running board along the side of the locomotive to connect the injector handle. As he stepped from the cab he shouted to Counihan to turn on a blower.

“The head brakeman, also in the cab, said he thought the engineer had shouted that the locomotive was about to blow up. He jumped from the right side of the cab and the fireman leaped offf the other.

“Counihan had been on the road only two weeks.”

The engineer was W. D. Ambrose of Fort Ashby, W. Va. With him in the cab of the westbound freight was J. E. Harrison, the head brakeman.

Ambrose estimated his train was going about 15 miles an hour at the time of the accident at 2:36 a.m., about an eight of a mile north of Rawlings, eight miles southwest of Cumberland.

Eastbound Passenger Train No. 24 was flagged by the crew of Counihan’s freight and backed up into Rawlings with the injured fireman. He was put in an ambulance there for the trip to Memorial Hospital.

Formerly at Celanese

Counihan, up until his employment with the railroad, was a spinner at the Amcelle Plant of Celanese Corporation. He was furloughed in October, members of the family report.

During World War II, Counihan served as a seaman in the Navy at Bainbridge and Norfolk, Va. He was married to the former Edith Catherine Carlisle.

He was born in Cumberland July 2, 1917, the son of John F. and Teresa (Hart) Counihan, 166 Thomas Street.

His children are Loretta, 13, and Robert, 11. He also leaves two sisters, Mrs. A. P. Solomon, Rock Hill, S. C., and Mrs. Ruth Blake, this city, and two brothers, Adrian H. Counihan, stationed in the Navy at Norfolk, and Joseph Counihan, this city.

Counihan received his education at St. Mary’s School and Fort Hill High School.

The body is at the Scarpelli Funeral Home.

Source: Fireman Mistaking Order Jumps From Locomotive And Dies, Cumberland Evening Times, Cumberland, Maryland, 4 January 1952, p. 1 – second section.

John was my second cousin, once removed.

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