If you don't have a subscription to GBI, you might not know this story.
In 1903, on Halloween morning, a packed train headed from Purdue to Indy for a game versus IU. The train was an extra-long one packed with Purdue football players, students, administration, alums and fans. Once the train was inside the Indy city limits, the accident occurred- Another train carrying coal ran head-on into the Purdue train. Neither conductor claims fault, and neither was killed in the wreck as they both jumped from their trains.
The responsibility for this horrific scene was upon those who organized the track schedule- they did not create a gap in that morning's normal freight schedule, thus the coal train was on the same tracks heading Northbound as the Purdue train headed South.
17 people died- all connected to the program- coaches, managers and players. The first two cars of the train were nearly split in half, horizontally, and more than one person was beheaded in the wreck. In a great and horribly gruesome moment, IU's players helped the Purdue faithful dig through the wreckage and tried to save as many of those trapped below as possible. Their train had already made the station just a mile away.
One of those pulled from the twisted metal became the Governor of Indiana 26 years later...but was mistakenly taken to the morgue that day as his heart was barely beating when he left the scene. Governor Leslie served for one term.
In 2003, prior to the opening game versus Bowling Green, the athletic department honored this dark day's 100th anniversary with a video presentation in Ross Ade stadium...Before that, I had never heard the details of this accident; it moved me to tears.
Keep in mind, the death of the 17 occurred to a relatively-young university with only 1,100 students...While I'm positive this is the worst disaster to ever happen to Purdue in its 140 years, I pray that something of this magnitude never happens again.