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|Johnstown Democrat, 5 Oct 1900, Contributed by Elaine Wilkinson|
|KILLED BY A SHIFTER|
Jacob Thomas Struck and Run Over Near Ott's Planing Mill
WAS LYING ON THE TRACK
Testimony of Conductor on B & O Train
Unfortunate Victim Was About 80 Years of Age.
Jacob Thomas was decapitated by the B & O shifter last evening about 7:20 opposite the lumber yard of David Ott in the Seventh Ward.
News of the man's death was sent immediately to Chief of Police Frazer and he in company with Coroner Miller, went at once to the Seventh Ward to investigate the case. Coroner Miller did not hold an inquest, but he examined a number of witnesses, whose testimony shows that it was not the fault of the conductor in charge of the shifter that Mr. Thomas was killed. According to the story told by three boys, William H. Jones of 513 1/2 Oak Street, George Rodgers of 621 Horner Street and Charles Mason of 706 Horner Street, Thomas was coming up the track when struck by the shifter. The boys were coming down the track and saw the old man approaching. Before they reached him, however, they turned off the track and went over to a pile of ties and sat down. They had seen the engine backing down the track when it was some distance away and supposed Thomas had seen it also. They paid no more attention to the man or to the train until they heard a brakeman shout that a man had been killed. They went to the scene and found Thomas dead on the track. The wheels of the tender and engine had passed over his head about the mouth, causing instant death. Young Jones and Rodgers were sworn in the case, but Mason said he could corroborate the story told by them, and the coroner did not swear him and take his evidence. Conductor E. Searfoss gave a very different testimony from that of the boys. He said he was standing on the car which killed Thomas. He did not see the man until the car was on him. He looked down and noticed that the man was lying on the track, with his head just over the rail, as though he was asleep. The man's skull was fractured and his head cut off.
Coroner Miller found $50 in the man's clothes, proving that he had not been killed and laid on the track. Thomas was aged about 80 years and had been boarding with Mr. and Mrs. Josiah Gindelsperger of Hickory Street. He has a number of children living and had lived with them at different times. He is well spoken of by all who knew him and was a highly respected old man. The surviving children are Mrs. Hiram Shank, of 329 Oak Street, Seventh Ward; Mrs. Catherine Weininger of Bedford County, Mrs. Christina Helsel of Elton, this county; William of Scottdale, Samuel of Oak Street, Seventh Ward, and John Thomas of Easton. He had no brothers or sisters living. The remains were taken to Henderson's undertaking establishment and there prepared for burial. The time of the funeral has not been set.