Jerry Stormer statement

Q. Where were you employed at the time of the Johnstown flood?
A. On the road.

Q. In what capacity?
A. Conductor.

Q. What train?
A. Local freight.

Q. On the Friday that the dam broke, where were you?
A. I was at South Fork. I backed down on what they call Stineman's siding, 702 B.

Q. Did your train remain there, or was it moved away?
A. We moved it away when the flood was coming.

Q. How long before the flood came?
A. It was almost in sight. I was in the cabin when we started to pull out, and I ran for the switch, and there was a man got there ahead of men and turned it, and we got out onto the main track; the water was up very near running into the cabin car.

Q. That was the water from the dam?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did you hear while you were there, any reports in relation to the safety of the South Fork dam?
A. Yes, sir, I heard a couple. The first report I heard the dsm [sic] was within a foot or so of running over.

Q. What time of day?
A. In the morning about ten o'clock; it was about an hour after we had been there.

Q. Who did you get that information from?
A. It appears to me the Agent told me that.

Q. What is his name?
A. Dougherty.

Q. Now, what other train s [sic] were near you at that time when the flood came?
A. There was a freight train laying on the middle siding, one laying behind the tower, and No. 2 was laying there, and myself. We were all around there not very far apart.

Q. What time did you reach South Fork?
A. I reached there about 2.30.

Q. And why did you stop there?
A. For orders.

Q. Did you try to get orders?
A. I was held there for orders, and remained there for orders.

Q. When you got there, was the water out over the bank of the Conemaugh?
A. Well, it was just about. I don't think it was out over the bk [sic] bank; the banks were full of water. Where we backed down, it was running over the banks down that reservoir stream. It was over its banks, and the bottom was covered with water down there.

Q. Did you hear more than once about the safety of the dam?
A. Yes, sir, I heard another rpport [sic] a little after dinner. Some man came down who had been sent up on purpose, and he said it was running over about 18 inches in some places, and he thought it was leaking about the middle down.

Q. Where was your train then?
A. In the same place.

Q. How long before the flood came, was it, that you moved from where you were?
A. I didn't move until the flood was in sight.

Q. When the flood struck the train, were you on the engine?
A. No, sir, I was ------ [sic] ahead of the engine. I had gone ahead to turn the swithe [sic].

Q. What damage was done to your train?
A. None at all.

Q. How high did the water seem to be that was coming toward you?
A. I couldn't say because I couldn't realize it. I just gave one look, and it looked to me like a mountain coming down. I didn't take a second look.

Q. How high was it?
A. I couldn't say how high it was.

Q. Now, the second time that you heard about the danger of the dam breaking, who did you get it from?
A. That was from some man that was sent from South Fork up there by horse-back; I didn't know his name.

Q. Did you see him?
A. I heard him tell it. I saw him coming down, and I went on purpose for that to see what he said.

Q. How long had you been running on the road?
A. Going on 17 years.

Q. Now, have you seen floods in the Conemaugh?
A. That's the first flood I ever saw in the Conemaugh; that is, a flood like that.

Q. I didn't ask you that; I asked if you had seen floods there before.
A. No not that I know of.

Q. Did you never see the river very high?
A. Yes, sir, but not high enough to do any damage of any account

Q. You never saw any stream as high as it was at that time?
A. No, sir, I never did.

Q. Was there any freight destroyed in your train?
A. No, sir, none at all.

Q. And none of your crew lost?
A. No, sir.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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