William S. Caswell saved four children, aged two to six, from burning, Peace Dale, Rhode Island, November 29, 1967. At a railroad crossing a station wagon containing a woman and her five children was struck by a freight train. Knocked from the crossing, the automobile overturned onto its side; and flames broke out at the rear. Caswell, 32, railroad engineer, jumped from the train, which stopped with the engine about 30 feet beyond the crossing, and ran to the station wagon. Flames burned on a tire directly under the fuel tank of the overturned vehicle and also around the opening of the door at the rear. Caswell reached through the doorway and removed a five-year-old girl. He carried her away from the automobile and beat out the flames on her clothing. Returning to the station wagon, he saw the mother standing near it, holding the youngest child. The flames around the door opening were spreading to the interior roof as Caswell stepped inside in a crouching position. He handed a three-year old girl and then a two-year-old boy outside to the mother. Still crouching, Caswell moved eight feet into the station wagon to get a six-year-old boy. As the flames continued to spread on the interior roof, Caswell backed out with the boy. A short time later flames engulfed the vehicle. Only the five-year-old girl had sustained burns. She recovered. 49992-5465
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William “Bill” Stephen Caswell, Sr., 84, of Austin, Kentucky, died peacefully on September 20, 2020 with his family at his side after a lengthy bout with cancer. Bill was born October 14, 1935, in South Kingstown, Rhode Island to George Clarkson Caswell and Evelyn (Ballinger) Caswell.
Bill graduated from Marple Newtown High School in Delaware County, Pennsylvania in 1955. After high school he joined the United States Coast Guard where part of his time was spent automating lighthouses in New England. After his Coast Guard service, he held a variety of jobs including working for railroads throughout the eastern part of the country. He loved to travel and photograph railroad depots, locomotives, and cabooses. As a railfan, he would often tell people how fortunate he was to get paid for enjoying his hobby. On November 29, 1967, while working for the Narragansett Pier Railroad in Rhode Island, a vehicle failed to stop at a railroad crossing striking the engine he was operating, rolling over and catching fire. He stopped the train and ran to the burning vehicle to save the pregnant mother and her four children. After the incident he was awarded a Carnegie medal for heroism.
He retired from the Florida Central Railroad in 1999 and moved to Barren County, Kentucky, where he continued to enjoy traveling until failing health slowed him down.
He is survived by his wife, Rachelle Caswell; sons, William S. Caswell, Jr. and his wife Jennifer of Hillsboro, New Hampshire; Christopher L. Maners and his wife Toni Rae of Cynthiana, Kentucky and Nicholas L. Maners and his wife Melissa of Bowling Green, Kentucky; fourteen grandchildren, several great-grandchildren, nephews and nieces. He was predeceased by his parents; his brother, George A. Caswell and a son, Brian H. Caswell.
Funeral services are scheduled for 2:00 p.m., Thursday, September 24, 2020 at Johnson Vaughn Phelps Funeral Home with burial to follow at Fairview Cemetery. Visitation will be from 12:00 p.m. until service time at the funeral home.