College Point, NY Long Island Trolley Accident, May 1901





Of twenty-six young peoople who set out joyously from College Point for a starlight ride in a wagon on Saturday night, two were carried home dead yesterday morning, five are lying in Jamaica Hospital suffering from more or less serious injuries, and all the others are nursing cuts or bruises as the result of a collision with a trolley car which crashed into the wagon almost at full speed. One the car were twenty-five passengers. All were badly shaken up, and one woman fainted, but none was injured. Those killed were MICHAEL SCHNEIR, twenty-three years old, of 97 Seventh Avenue, College Point, and JOSEPH PICKET, twenty years old, Eleventh Street and Fifth Avenue, College Point.
Starlight outing parties have been very popular for some months in College Point, being held almost every evening when the weather permitted. The usual plan was to drive to some report ten or so miles from home, and after a couple of hours of dancing and a supper, to drive back in the early morning hours. For these trips the farm wagons in which truck gardeners carry their produce to market have been used.
The party in last night's accident left College Point somewhat late. A wagon had been hired from DERESCHEIN Brothers truck gardeners. JOHN ROGERS, one of their emplooyes, was driving. Cushions had been placed along the seats on the sides, and the bottom of the wagon was filled with straw.
The trip was made to Jamaica by way of the Hoffman Boulevard. ROGERS says he was going at a trot when he turned into Fulton Street in Jamaica. It was getting toward midnight. His objective point was Distler's Hotel, in Fulton Street, near Van Wyck Avenue, on the border line between Jamaica and Richmond Hill.
When in front of the hotel ROGERS says he looked back and saw a car approaching, but a considerable distance away. He calculated that he had plenty of time to cross, but says he had no idea that the car was traveling so fast. When he first looked the headlight appeared a long way off. He turned sharply, so as to cross the rails and drive under the sheds adjoining the hotel. When his train was straightened out and his wagon directly upoon the tracks he looked again and saw the car was rushing toward him and less than 200 feet away.
He says that up to that time the motorman had made no effort to slacken his speed. Others say that the car was within 100 feet of the wagon before the motorman did more than turn off the current. The car had been running at top speed, and when the current was turned off the speed did not slacken materially. When the brake was finally applied it was too late. ROGERS, when he saw the danger, frantically whipped up his horses, but the load on the wagon was heavy and the horses had hardly broken from a walk to a gallop when the crash came. The car, after breaking the rear end of the wagon, pushed it to one side and then stopped. The car itself was badly wrecked. The front dashboard and the front platform were demolished. The side of the car nearest the wagon was broken.
CHARLES VAN of 285 Patchen Avenue, Brooklyn, was the motorman of the car which was No. 2,109 of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit. MARTIN EAGEN was the conductor. VAN stuck to his post, but just as the collision came he stepped to the far side of his platform and escaped without injury beyond a bruised shin.
The noise of the collision and the shrieks of the persons on the wagon and on the car were heard for a considerable distance, and brought every one rushing from the hotel to the aid of the injured.
PICKEL and SCHNEIR were occupying the end seats at the reaf of the wagon. PICKEL was hurled into the air and fell thirty feet away. As he descended his head struck a fire hydrant, and his skull was crushed in. He was carried into DISTLER'S but died as he was being placed upon a couch in the parlor. SCHNEIR was also thrown into the air. He landed head first on the macadam pavement. He was unconscious, and was carried into the hotel. A few minutes later an ambulance from the Jamaica Hospital arrived and started with him, as the most seriously injured, for that institution. He died before it was reached.
The ambulance made several trips back and forth carrying the injured. Nine in all were taken to the institution, but yesterday morning four of these were allowed to go home.
Those still in the Jamaica Hospital are:
MATTIE DEBEVOISE, 17 years old, Twelfth Avenue and Sixth Street; contusions of chest and hips.
ELLEN DIETZ, 17 years old age, 48 Twelfth Street; suffers from shock and bruises.
KATE HOFFMAN, 32 years of age, Fourteenth Avenue and Fifteenth Street; cut above right eye; suffers from shock.
KATE ROCKLIN, 20 years of age, 568 Eighth Street, Astoria; shock and bruised.
HENRIETTA SILVER, 20 years old, Woodside; scalp wound and shock.
Those whose injuries were dressed at the hospital
amd who were afterward allowed to go home were:
EDWARD BUCK, 18 years old, Thirteenth Street and Sixth Avenue.
LIZZIE HOUSEMAN, 22 years of age , Fourteen Street.
DAVID ROSS, 20 years old, Thirtieth Street and Ninth Avenue.
GEORGE WEBER, 24 years old, Seventeenth Street and Seventh Aveune.
The others were able to go home after resting in the hotel.
Motorman VAN was arrested a short time after the collision, and was locked up at Jamaica. He declared that he was not to blame. He said that his bell was ringing, and he was traveling at an ordinary rate of spped when he saw the wagon ahead of him. It was going east, as he was, and there was no intimation that it was not to continue upon its way. Suddenly, when he was within a hundred and fifty feet, perhaps less, the driver swung sharply across the track. He acted instantly, shutting off the power, putting on the brakes, and reversing his motors. Under favoragle circumstances he could not have stopped entirely, but the rails were wet and slippery, and despite all he could do his car had only begun to slacken, after sliding along the rails, before he hit the wagon.
The accident developed a clash between the police and the Coroner. VAN was taken into custody by the police and arraigned before Magistrate Healy at Far Rockaway. Coroner Guy appeared and asked that VAN be turned over to him. The police insisted that the motorman be held on their charge of homocide. Magistrate Healy refused to honor Coroner Guy's demand, and committed VAN to the Queens County Jail without bail. Coroner Guy said last night he would take steps to show the polce and the Magistrates their proper duties in such cases.
The bodies of SCHNEIR and PICKEL were taken to College Point in the afternoon.

New York Times New York 1901-05-13