February 12, 1956
Warwick couple, daughter killed as train hits auto
A Warwick couple and their young daughter were killed instantly about 4pm yesterday in Warwick when an automobile in which they were traveling was struck by a Newport News bound passenger train.
Killed were George R. Coates, 35, his wife, Arleigh Simpson Coates, 30, and their eight-year-old daughter, Pamela. They lived at 46 Elm Ave.
The accident occurred at the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Co. Morrison crossing at Harpersville Road.
A Citizens Rapid Transit Bus Co. driver, who police did not identify, was an eyewitness to the tragedy. He gave Patrolman W. R. Lange of the Warwick Police Department, who investigated, this version of the accident:
After a northbound freight train cleared the crossing, the car in which the victims were traveling proceeded slowly onto the crossing and the car was struck by the passenger train. The car was moving west toward Route 60.
The driver told Lane the bus he was operating was stopped on the west side of the tracks.
The automobile was knocked 157 feet from the point of impact. It landed in the middle of Kellam St. Mr. Coates and his wife were thrown clear of the automobile and the daughter was trapped inside the vehicle.
Mrs. Coates’ body was found 54 feet north of the car and her husband was thrown 21 feet south of the car. The left front side of the train engine struck the car, Lange said.
Papers and other personal belongings were knocked from the car and scattered about on the ground between the point of impact and where the car came to a stop. The 1955 model car was demolished.
Warwick police were unable to determine yesterday whether Mr. or Mrs. Coates was driver of the car.
Relatives and friends of the family told police Mrs. Coates and her daughter left Warwick yesterday for a Richmond airport to pick up her husband, an assistant district sales manager for All-State Insurance Co., who was returning by plane from Roanoke.
Lange identified the engineer of the train as T. W. Rowe, 70, of 5904 Lone St., Richmond. He said no charges have been filed against him.
Two Warwick Fire Department ambulances and a wrecker were dispatched to the scene. The bodies were taken to the nearby W. J. Smith and Son Funeral Home.
Dr. K. M. Clements, assistant State medical examiner, said the victims died of severe skull fractures and numerous other injuries.
The train was delayed approximately 30 minutes at the scene.
A native of Newport News, Mr. Coates was born Jan. 7, 1921 and graduated from Newport News High School. He was employed in the purchasing department of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., before entering the US Army in 1942. He served in the field artillery in Europe and was discharged in 1945.
Following his discharge from the armed forces, he joined the All-State Insurance Co. as an agent and later assistant district sales manager with headquarters in Roanoke. He was a member of Bremond Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Newport News.
His survivors are his parents, Mr. and Mrs. R. P. Coates, 307 Maple Ave., Newport News; one brother, Robert P. Coates, and seven sisters, Mrs. Violet Ennis, Mrs. Ruth Parker and Mrs. Jackie Byrum, all of Newport News, and Mrs. Mildred Goodrich, Mrs. Margaret Vann, Mrs. Frances Watson and Mrs. Virginia Heath, all of Hampton.
Mrs. Coates, the former Miss Arleigh Ann Simpson, was born at Fort Monroe. She graduated from Hampton High School.
She was the daughter of Col. Bailey Simpson, USA Ret., and Mrs. Simpson, currently residents of Fort Benning, GA. In addition to her parents, she is survived by a sister, Patricia, of Baltimore, and two brothers, Bailey Simpson Jr. of Fort Benning, GA and Vernon Simpson.
Mr. and Mrs. Coates were members of the Tabernacle Baptist Church. Pamela and her mother attended Sunday school at the Hilton Baptist Church. Pamela was a fourth grader in the Riverside School.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete pending the arrival of Mrs. Coates’ parents from Fort Benning. The family is at the home of Mr. Coates’ parents, 307 Maple Ave.
The three fatalities yesterday raised the Warwick total to five thus far in 1956. Four of the five victims died in train-automobile collisions.
The first fatality of 1956 was a Fort Eustis soldier, who died in an accident involving the car in which he was riding and a freight train at the Johnny Crafford Road Crossing early Jan. 20 and the second victim was a Hampton High School junior who died when his car struck a tree on Whealton Road shortly after noon Jan. 25.
Warwick police said yesterday’s fatal collision was believed to be the first at the Harpersville Road crossing involving a car and train. However, a Warwick resident said last night he could recall a fatality resulting from a train hitting a horse and buggy in the early 1920s.
One person was a victim of a train-car collision at the Todd’s Lane crossing late in 1944, police reported. Fortunately, the Main Street crossing in Warwick has never been the scene of an auto-train collision which resulted in a fatality.
February 13, 1956
Set joint rites tomorrow for crash victims
A joint funeral service for Mr. and Mrs. George R. Coates and their daughter, Pamela Ann Coates, of Warwick, killed Saturday when their car collided with a train at Morrison crossing, will be held at 2 tomorrow afternoon in Tabernacle Baptist Church.
The Rev. J. V. Tesh, pastor, assisted by the Rev. E. W. Farrar, pastor of Ivy Memorial Baptist Church, will officiate.
Burial with Masonic rites will be in Greenlawn Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be Randolph M. Smith, Glenroy Beldin, Richard R. Koschel, James R. Mannsey, Harold McCulloch, William F. Deans, Roland Hagedorn and Carl S. Hager. Honorary pallbearers will be officials of the Allstate Insurance Co. and other friends of the family.
The family made its home at 46 Elm Ave., Warwick. Mr. Coates, 35, was an assistant district sales manager for the Allstate Insurance Co. Mrs. Coates, 30, was the former Miss Arleigh Simpson, daughter of Col. And Mrs. Bailey Simpson formerly of Fort Monroe. Their daughter, Pamela Ann, 8, was their only child.