Roller Coaster Accident at Summit Beach (Part 1)

Roller Coaster accident - 1918-07-08, headlineRoller Coaster accident - 1918-07-08, part 1ROLLER COASTER ACCIDENT AT SUMMIT BEACH SENDS THREE TO DEATH, WITH OTHERS DOOMED

Four Cars Being Drawn Up First Incline of “Over the Top” Leave Tracks and Plunge 50 Feet Down Carrying 15 Passengers With Them


Police and Fireman Aid In Rescue Work and Send Injured to Both Hospitals, Where Three More Victims Are Reported In Critical Condition

Investigation of the cause of the accident on the Summit Beach roller coaster, “Over the Top,” which caused the death of three persons Sunday evening and may result in three more fatalities, is likely to center around the responsibility for the placing of a block of wood on the left track of the incline about 10 feet from its beginning. This piece of wood about 4x6x8 inches in size was run over by the front truck of the train, derailing the wheels, which then ran on the ties and running board of the incline up to the point where the train finally crashed over the side to the ground 40 feet below carrying its human freight to death and injury below. This piece of wood was found this morning, and bore marks of the wheel flanges.

That the accident will be probed from several directions is indicated today.

Prosecutor Roetzel said Monday morning that he would look in the criminal responsibility of the accident.

Inspectors of the city building department made a thorough inspection of the coaster today and their findings are not out of accord with the theory that the block of wood may have been the cause.

Directors of the operating company are in session this afternoon and will issue a statement later as to their investigation.

The casualty list of the accident follows:


Mrs. Floyd W. Van Sickle, 27 years, 70 Cherry st.; taken from wreckage alive, but died on way to City hospital.
General Bailey, Tarriff, W. Va., who had been visiting his sister, Mrs. D. C. Casto, 1205 Grace av,
Frank King, 373 Pearl st.


Clyde Keen, address unknown; City hospital.
Dennis Glassford, 25, Lockport, N. Y.; Peoples hospital.


Harvey Higgins, 19, 814 Yale st.; City hospital.
Otis Smith, 20 Bartges st.; City hospital.
Mark Sos, 269 Melville st.; City hospital.
Joseph Mackey, 403 S. Second st., Barberton; City hospital.
Mrs. Dorothy Roach, Zanesfille; City hospital.
Mrs. John Yuhas, 503 First st., Barberton; Peoples hospital.
Mrs. Agnes Kurth, 70 Cherry st.; broken leg and arm; Peoples hospital.


Mrs. Helen Puhala, 481 S. Main st.; Peoples hospital.
Francis Cook, 20, 1249 Fifth av.; taken home.
Lester Hardy, official of Goodyear police department; leg broken.

(To Be Continued)

“Roller Coaster Accident At Summit Beach Sends Three to Death, With Others Doomed,” Akron Beacon Journal, 8 July 1918, p. 1, col. 7.

A very special “thank you” is in order for the Special Collections Department of the Akron-Summit County Public Library. I emailed my request for more information regarding the roller coaster accident on Saturday and received the results in less than 24 hours. Since I received several days worth of information, I will be breaking the story down into smaller chunks for the rest of this week.

17 thoughts on “Roller Coaster Accident at Summit Beach (Part 1)

  1. Nancy Bradshaw

    My grandmother, Agnes Layden Kurth, died in 1980.
    Do you know how I can get her death certificate? She died in Utah and was buried in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
    I have a medical condition and it would be helpful to know the cause of her death.
    Thank you so much,

  2. Nancy Kurth Bradshaw

    Agnes Layden Kurth and Erich A Kurth were my paternal grandparents. They named their first born child, Charlotte, after Charlotte VanSickle, who died from injuries sustained in the roller coaster crash.
    My older sister told me that Charlotte VanSickle was my grandmothers best friend.

    1. Genealogy Lady Post author

      Hi Nancy,

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I just wanted to add a couple corrections. Charlotte did not die in the roller coaster accident; her mother, Roberta (Yagerline) Van Sickle, was the one who died. Charlotte died in 2005.


      1. Nancy Bradshaw

        I’m sorry I meant to say that my grandmother, Agnes Kurth’s best friend, Mrs VanSickle, died in the roller coaster incident. My grandparents later named their first child, Charlotte, the same name as Mr & Mrs VanSickles daughter.

  3. Zella

    One of the ‘fatally injured’ – Dennis Glassford, was alive and well in 1920, living back in Lockport NY with his parents and working at a machine shop. 😉

    1. Genealogy Lady Post author

      Wow! Thanks for doing that research. It’s amazing how one incident can touch so many lives. Charlotte (the girl who refused to ride) lived a long life too. However, that branch of the family were terrified of riding roller coasters, and many of them did not know why specifically.

  4. Mustang.Koji

    The news report seems to allude that someone intentionally left that piece of wood on the tracks? My god. I thought heinous acts like this only took place in today’s screwed up times.


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