Ernest Rutledge, 44, Ellensburg, was critically injured early this morning [June 28, 1943] when the westbound section of the Milwaukee Olympian passenger train crashed into the logging truck he was driving at the “B” Street crossing.
Physicians at the Ellensburg General Hospital, where he was rushed in a Honeycutt ambulance, said he suffered a skull fracture and a severe back injury.
The accident happened about 5:45 o’clock this morning [June 26, 1943] as Rutledge who was driving a truck belonging to A. J. McCracken, was leaving for logging operations in the Menastash Canyon. He lives with his mother, Mrs. W. T. Rutledge, about 150 yards north of the crossing. He backed his truck down the narrow lane from his house and onto the tracks when the sleeper section of the train struck the right front side of the truck cab. Although the train was stopping at the depot, less than 100 yards beyond, the terrific impact demolished the truck cab, tore the front wheels from their mountings and hurled them about 40 feet, and threw Rutledge about 20 feet from the wreckage. The truck was swung completely around and clear of the tracks. It did not turn over. The engine apparently was undamaged, and the train continued to Seattle.
The first section of the Milwaukee’s train, which is due in Ellensburg at 4:22 a.m., had passed through, and the second section was running late at 5:45 a.m., Milwaukee employees here said this morning.
Since the lane in front of his residence is too narrow to turn his truck around, Rutledge had been in the habit of backing down the lane and across the tracks into Fourteenth Street, it was reported. [IOOF Cemetery]
Contributed by: Shelli Steedman