Tag Archives: Lieut. Lester Hardy

Roller Coaster Accident at Summit Beach (Part 5)

Roller Coaster accident - 1918-07-08, headlineRoller Coaster accident - 1918-07-08, part 5Hardy Tells Story

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.

Roller Coaster Accident at Summit Beach (Part 4)

Roller Coaster accident - 1918-07-08, headlineRoller Coaster accident - 1918-07-08, part 4Story of the Crash

Mrs. Kurth was conscious all the way to the People’s Hospital and gave her details of what had transpired to her husband, who accompanied her in the ambulance. She said:

We saw that something terrible was going up the incline the car began to wobble and that the cars ahead of us were wobbling even more. Then from the first car came shouts calling for the machinery to be stopped. We saw that somehing [sic] terrible was about to happen and added our own cries to the others, but it brought no result. The next thing we knew we had crashed through the side of the runway at a point far up in the air and were falling in a terrible mixup of people and cars. That’s all I remember until I felt some one drag me out from under a stack of timber and found it was you.” (meaning Mr. Kurth.)

It has been learned that the shouts of warning urging that the [illegible] be stopped came from Harvey Higgins of 814 Yale st., and Lieut. Lester Hardy of the Goodrich fire department, who occupied seats in the first car. Following the accident, Higgins was found wandering in a dazed condition about the park and was removed to the hospital. Lieut. Hardy was only slightly injured, one leg showing bruises.

“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.

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

THOROUGH PROBE PROMISED

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:

THE DEAD

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.

FATALLY INJURED

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

SERIOUSLY INJURED

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.

SLIGHTLY INJURED

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.