Updated March 14, 2017

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Compendium of supporting documents and information re: my article,
Who Saved Otto Klug? Investigating a 75-year-old mystery, published in the February 2017 Kent Historical Society Newsletter.

Click here for the hard copy version.
Click here for the digital version with links I co-published on my blog.

Got related documents and/or information to share? Please contact me and/or the Kent Historical Society. I'll update this page with any new information.

I.   Click here for my father's version describing himself as Otto Klug's rescuer
II.  Click here for local newspaper reports and other information identifying Jack Bartovic and others as Otto Klug's rescuers

I. My father's version describing himself as Otto Klug's rescuer

From an unsigned front page August 29, 1941 New York Times article about the train wreck. The article includes no interviews with anyone else associated with the accident and reports the 7:30pm arrival time of the special train to Grand Central, therefore it's reasonable to consider that the reporter had not been at the scene of the accident and had met the train at Grand Central:
The railroad dispatched buses to the scene to take the passengers to Danbury, where a special train met them and took them on to New York, arriving in Grand Central Terminal at 7:30 P.M.

...The most graphic eyewitness account of the disaster was obtained from Henry Heimlich, 21, of 30 West Ninetieth Street, a sailing counselor at Camp Mah-kee-nac and a pre-medical student at Cornell University, who was admiringly advertised by most of his young charges as the "hero" of the accident.

"I was riding in the. next-to-the-last coach." Heimlich related, “when suddenly there was a lurch, as from the rear, and we all went flying forward. I called to the children to be quiet. About half a dozen of them had received bumps and bruises. Then I ran forward and jumped out. I saw that the engine and the first car were almost submerged and that the fireman’s leg was caught under the steps of the second car which had overturned. He was lying in about four feet of water.

"He was floundering around, hysterical, and I ran toward him and held his head above the water. He told me he had jumped when he saw the engine going over but that the second car had caught him.

"He was all black and he was crying that he was afraid he'd lose his leg. Another counselor, Jack Handelsman, who is also a pre-medical student jumped into a boat nearby and rowed out to help me. Then a lot of people came and while I held the fireman up they started digging underneath with their hands, and later with shovels, to free his leg.

"I sort of knew it was hopeless but I kept telling him that we'd have him free in a little while. Then a woman doctor and some other doctors came along and one of them suggested that the leg be cut off, but the fireman begged them to save the leg. He had quieted down after a few minutes, and the doctors gave him morphine once in a while, and he kept talking to us.

"Some of the rescuers tore up some sheets from the ambulances, or maybe they were from the train, and we put them under his arms and threw the other loop over the top of the car and that kept his head out of the water.

"The car was slipping deeper and deeper into the mud, and a few minutes later, so quickly that I was astonished, some one ordered the dam near by dynamited in order to let more water in and keep the fireman afloat."

Heimlich said that three other trainmen who had been in the first coach making up their reports when the accident occurred had leaped to safety a second before the car plunged into the pond.
The paragraphs from the New York Times article were re-published word for word in the August 29, 1941 Danbury News-Times which is page 9 of my pdf compilation -- here's a screenshot from that article; to my knowledge no other news articles from the time mentioned my father's name:

Excerpt from "My First Save," a sub-chapter in Heimlich's Maneuvers, my father's 2014 memoir -- edited by my sister, Janet Heimlich, of Austin, TX -- click here for a pdf copy of the book:
I ran forward, making my way around the disjointed cars. Then something caught my eye. At the base of the second car, I saw a man struggling frantically in four or five feet of water, his head submerged. I jumped in the cold, murky water and swam over to him. I lifted his shoulders to raise up his head. The man coughed and spat out water. His face was blackened with coal dust, and he was crying.

I tried to move him, but it was no use—his right leg was caught in the dirt under the steps of the train car. I could think of nothing more to do than hold the man’s head above the water and hope that help would arrive soon.

The man was in tremendous pain, so I tried to engage him in conversation to take his mind off it. He told me his name was Otto Klug, and he was a fireman on the train, the crewperson who shovels the coal that runs the engine. He had leapt from the engine to avoid injury before becoming pinned under the water. To give him some kind of relief, I used the pond water to clean his soot-covered face.

When Mr. Klug found out I was about to be a medical student, he started asking me questions about his condition.

“Am I okay?” he asked fearfully. “Am I going to live?”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” I said.

“Am I going to lose my leg?”

I didn’t know what to say. I was quite sure that the answer was yes, but I did not want Mr. Klug to give up hope.

The police and medical personnel finally arrived. By that time, Mr. Klug and I had been in the water for two hours, and we were both shivering. When doctors suggested that they immediately amputate Mr. Klug’s leg, he begged them not to. I suggested that they give him morphine, which they did. After that, he calmed down.

Meanwhile, the car was slipping deeper and deeper into the mud. The crew had to act fast. They tied a sheet to the train and ran it under Mr. Klug’s back to hold him above the water. Welders used  acetylene torches underwater to cut away the steel so that the man could be freed. Seeing that Mr. Klug was in good hands, I returned to the campers, and the press swarmed around us. Mr. Klug was taken to a hospital where his leg was amputated below the knee.

,,,A month later, I appeared again in the Times, this time in an article whose caption read, “Henry Heimlich of Cornell University Medical College accepting from Frank L. Jones, president of the Greater New York Safety Council, the annual prize, a gold watch, for his calmness and courage in saving a life in a railroad wreck near South Kent, Conn.”  The article shows a photo of me, beaming, as I accept the award.

Now that I think about it, that recognition was my first brush with fame. Accounts of the accident called me a “hero.” But, even back then, I could not have cared less about the attention. Otto Klug was alive, and that’s all that mattered.

What I could not have known at the time was that there would be many more Otto Klugs—individuals whose lives I would save using a combination of medical expertise and common sense.  

II. Local newspapers and other information identify Jack Bartovic and others as Otto Klug's rescuers

From Child Passengers Sing as Live Steam Hisses Around Them; Rescuer Calms Fireman Trapped Under Wreckage Two Hours by an unidentified staff Reporter, Waterbury Republican, August 29, 1941 which may be found on page 18 of my pdf compilation. (Note to grammarians, "counsellor" is an accepted spelling.)
Joseph Krizan, Jr., had seen the locomotive and cars topple off the track into Hatch Pond at South Kent yesterday as he was mowing the grass in front of his mother's house, just off the South Kent Road.

He and a friend, Jack Bartovic, ran toward the accident as fast as they could.
They did not know the train was filled with children. But when Krizan climbed into the second car, which was hanging over the water...

"They weren't screaming," he said, a curious note of awe in his voice. "I should think they would be screaming. They weren't. They were quiet. The camp counsellors were telling them, 'It's all right, don't be scared, It's all right.' And I said that to them, too, I said, 'It's all right.'"

Krizan was the first person to reach the scene. Bartovic didn't get into the car, because he saw a man half in and half out of the water, a short distance away at the other end of the car. It was the fireman, Otto Klug of Seymour.

Bartovic waded in and held Klug's head above water, for his leg was caught. Later they found it had been almost severed and a doctor wanted to cut it off and get Klug out of there, but Klug said, "My leg isn't bad. I won't let you cut if odd. I'll wait until the crane gets here and they life the car off me."

So Bartovic stayed with him for more than two hours, and the crane lifted the car and then Klug saw that his leg was hanging only by flesh.

Krizan and Bartovic told their stories as they watched the wrecking crew working on the derailed trains in the late afternoon sunlight that slated off the green quiet hills.

...(Krizan:) "I kept on to the second car because the first was almost underwater. Jack went to the man he saw pinned in the wreck.

"The kids seemed to have all gotten to this second car, crowded into it. The counsellors each had charge of a certain number. It was like seeing a hen taking care of a brood of chicks. I don't know what made me think of that, but I did. They were wonderful, those counsellors. 'It's all right everything is all right,' they kept saying.

"...One of (the children), maybe more must have been hurt -- I've got blood on my sleeve. See?"

He held out his arm. There was a large dark stain.

"Then they started singing, while I was getting them out. Camp songs -- and something patriotic -- I think it was God Bless America.'' Singing those kids were, in a wrecked train with the steam from the locomotive hissing all around.

"We -- the counsellors and I -- got them to the road. Then we went back to see if there were any left -- to see if there were any in that first car, which was in the water.

"They all seemed to be out. I went to the road and said to one of the counsellors, 'Why don't you count them?'

"They did. I waited. It took quite a while. Then a counsellor said, 'They're all here. Every single one is here.'

"That sounded damned good..."

Bartovic was standing near, listening. He is slighter than Krizan, and dark, and his face was drawn. He had been more than two hours in the water, holdng up the man whose was hanging by flesh. What had Klug said, while he was holding him? Was he screaming...

"He wasn't screaming," Bartovic said. "He didn't hear the kids scream, and he didn't scream. But he thought his leg was held by some stones under the water. He thought if I could get the stones off his leg he could get free.

"I felt around in the mud underneath him - he was only a few feet off shore, at the near end og the car, and in about four feet of water. I guess part of the wrecked car was holding him, but he thought it was stones. So I felt around in the mud, but I couldn't find any stones.

"I asked him if he wanted a drink, and he said he could use some whiskey. I shouted to the road and someone got a bottle. He took a drink. The minutes were passing and no ambulance came, and I just stayed with him. Every once in a while, he'd ask me to feel around for the stones that were holding him, and I would, but I couldn't find any stones.

"After a while a doctor came. I don't know his name. He waded out and Klug told him about the stones, so he bent down and felt around, and then he said to Klug: 'Man, your leg is almost gone. It's judt hanging. Let me cut the rest of the way off and get you out of here and to a hospital.'

"Klug shook his head. He said, 'My leg isn't bad. Maybe it's broken, that's all. Don't cut it off. I'll wait for the crane to lift the car off me.'

"The doctor asked him again, but Klug wouldn't let him cut the leg off, and finally the doctor asked him if he wanted a hypodermic, a drug, you know, and Klug said, 'Yes, but a light one, don't make it too strong, I don't want to go to sleep.' Maybe he was afraid of his head going under water, but I was holding that up.

"The doc gave him the hypo, and we waited some more. They got a sheet, and we made sort of a sling to support him. Klug didn't say anything about the stones. It was over two hours before the crane came and lifted the car off Klug.

"He looked down then and saw how his leg was hanging by flesh. He didn't say anything, just put his head back. They took him to the hospital, and took the leg off there. He's in pretty bad shape, they say. Brave guy, though..."

There was quite a bit of bravery at the scene of that wreck, on the edge of Hatch Pond.

March 25, 2003 e-mail to me from Marge McAvoy, Kent Historical Society (with whom I corresponded using a pseudonym):
Emily Krizan stopped by here today with some thoughts for me to pass along to you. She is not well, nor is her 90 year old husband, so I think she just doesn't have the strength to talk much. Makes me sad. She's a real pip, and I hate to see her go downnhill. But maybe with warm weather, she'll bounce back.

At any rate, she said you were very nice to talk to, and she wants to help you out. She told me where to find the photos she had given to the KHS years ago. I finally unearthed them. Just a few, but one shows Otto Klug and the people hovering around him. Another is an aerial shot of the wreck, showing the train in the water by her house. I think what I will do, in the interest of saving money, is to just xerox them, and then if there are any you want good copies of, we can get them made for you.

I don't know how much she has already told you, but apparently she was at the house with her sister and mother and father. She and her sister were walking around the back of their barn (visible in the photo) on their way to the pond, when the train came ripping around the curve and went off the track.

They heard this terrible noise, which was the hot train hitting the cold water, and then the screeching as it went in. She is positive that the crash would have been much worse if the train had not hit (A) a large tree and (B) the concrete remnants of a huge conveyor belt left over from the ice packing house that had been on the property right next to the tracks. These things stopped the train, which otherwise might have all ended up in Hatch Pond!  She says she can see it just as clearly today as if ti just happened.

[Emily] got into quite an argument with Marge Richards, who is sure HER husband was THE one to hold up Klug's head. But we feel positive that several people had that task, as the poor man was in the water for many hours.  Emily and her husband had a dear friend named Jack Bartovic (no longer alive), who also held up Klug's head. Many years later, Klug knocked on Jack's door and came in to thank him for helping to save his life. Jack said he remembered Klug begging them to save his leg because he could feel it. The phantom limb phenomenon, no doubt. He was in the water for hours. Cranes and lights were rushed to the site as they struggled into the night to free him.  Must have been quite a joint effort, so no doubt most people who said they held up his head probably did. Emily said there were cars all over the place as parents came up from the city to pick up their children. Busses also came to take away those whose families did not come.

Click here for a pdf compiling the following articles and related records about the August 28, 1941 train wreck at Hatch Pond, South Kent, CT. I made best efforts to arrange the articles in chronological order. The page numbers conform to the pdf page number.

My father is mentioned only in the August 29, 1941 New York Times article and the same-day Danbury News-Times article which includes a w
ord for word re-write of the interview my father gave to the NY Times reporter which appears to have taken place at Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

Parenthetical initials indicate articles identifying Otto Klug's rescuer as my father (HJH), Jack Bartovic (JB), Charles Dutcher Edwards (CDE), Philip Camp (PC)

p.1:    Danbury News-Times, August 28, 1941
p.6:    New York Times, August 29, 1941 (HJH) Click here for a text version of the last section based on an interview with my father)
p.9:    Danbury News-Times, August 29, 1941 (includes word for word re-publication of interview with my father from the NY Times article)
p.15:  Danbury News-Times, August 29, 1941
p.18:  Waterbury Republican, August 29, 1941(JB) Click here for transcription of interviews with Joseph Krizan Jr.. and Jack Bartovic
p. 21: Waterbury Republican, August 29, 1941 (JB
p. 25: Waterbury Republican, August 28, 1941 (JB)
p. 27: Danbury News-Times, August 30, 1941
p. 29: Danbury News-Times, August 29, 1941
p.31:  Danbury News-Times, August 30, 1941
p.33:  Danbury News-Times, August 29, 1941
p.35:  Windsor Daily Star, August 30, 1941
p.37:  Danbury News-Times, August 30, 1941
p.40:  Waterbury Republican, August 30, 1941
p.42:  New York Times, September 25, 1941 (HJH being presented with bravery award)
p.44:  Cornell Alumni News, November 6, 1941 (mention of NY Times article about HJH being presented with bravery award)
p.47:  The Kent GTD, March 29,1984 (JB, CDE)
p. 49:  Lakeville Joujrnal, September 5, 1985
p.52:   Unknown publication, August 29, 1976 (
PC and unidentified others)
p.54:   The Foothill News, February 3, 1989
p.56:   Page from Litchfield County Times article, unknown date (CDE)
p.58:   "My first save," excerpt from my father's 2014 memoir, Heimlich's Maneuvers, about the train wreck; includes photo of August 29, 1941 New York Daily News article but text is too small to decipher -- Click here for a transcription of my father's description of how he claims to have rescued Otto Klug
p.65:   March 25, 2003 e-mail to me from Marge McAvoy, Kent Historical Society (with whom I corresponded using a pseudonym) -- Click here for a transcription of the section describing Otto Klug's rescue (JB, CDE, perhaps others)