Hardy regards his fortunate escape to the fact that he leaped from the first car as it neared the ground in the terrific descent. His version of how the crash came follows:
I had been out to the park with Higgins and he urged that we make a trip ‘over the top’ before going home. There were four cars in the string we entered. We took the rear seat in the first car. Each car has four seats, thus accommodating eight persons all told. As we passed from the loading platform and faced the incline the cable that pulls the cars up gripped all right. There was nothing to indicate anything was wrong until we were quite a distance up. Then our car began to start going sideways – a sort of skidding stunt. We saw it meant a bad accident and shouted below for the cable to be stopped. Others in the cars that followed shouted as well, but it was of no use. On and on we went and then over the side. I thought it was all off for any of us. That more were not killed seems a miracle to me. I owe my escape to the fact I leaped from the car as it neared the ground.”
Officials of the Akron Scenic Railway Corporation declared Monday that the accident was not due to a broken wheel or any defect in the construction of the cars. They are still conducting a probe as to the cause of the first car skidding. The police report states that the four cars were fifty feet above the ground when they broke through the runway and fell to earth. Engine company No. 6 of the fire department was summoned to the park and assisted materially in clearing away the debris and aiding the injured.
Frank, King, 373 Pearl st., was dead when taken from the debris. General Bailey of Tarriff, W. Va., was still alive when rescuers dragged him forth. He died, however, while being taken to the People’s hospital.
Mrs. Van Sickle, the third victim to succumb, came to Akron but a week ago from Indianapolis, where her husband was interested in the automobile business. Mr. Van Sickle planned to locate here permanently.
“We had been planning great things,” said Mr. Van Sickle, in speaking of the loss he has sustained. Mr. Kurth invited us to take a ride out to the park in his car and we accepted, taking our six-year-old daughter, Charlotte, with us. It’s pretty tough to lose the best friend a fellow ever had. My wife’s parents reside at 415 S. Grace st., Indianapolis and her body will be sent there immediately. While we lived in that city we were located at 4915 E. New York st.”
“Roller Coaster Accident At Summit Beach Sends Three to Death, With Others Doomed,” Akron Beacon Journal, 8 July 1918, p. 13, col. 2.
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.