New York, NY Electric Power Line Accident, Jul 1889




B. F. Linnell, who lived at No. 43 Austin street, and left this city last week for New York, had a very lively and very dangerous experience there Tuesday. he was with his son Walter F., who formerly lived in this city. The New York Sun of Wednesday tells this story of the occurrence:

The insulated electric light wire supplying illumination to Gus Relber's saloon at 131 Eighth street was burned away at the switch-box about 8 o'clock last night and fell into the street. Fire had been spurting from the switch-box for several minutes, and a crowd had gathered in front of the saloon to see the electric pyrotechnics. Walter F. Linnell, a young clerk in O'Neill's dry goods store, was eating dinner with his father, B. F. Linnell, in Temperance Orator Gibb's dairy, two doors away, at 127. He ran out to see what was the matter, and got under the wire just as it fell, with a serpentine squirm, on the sidewalk. He put up his hands to protect himself and got the end of the wire in his left hand. He uttered a scream and fell writhing on the sidewalk. He tried to force the deadly wire from his left hand with his right, and made matters worse. He could let go with neither hand. The unlucky young man's father tried to release him with an umbrella, and got a shock that nearly knocked him down. He laid hold of his son's heels and was thrown to the sidewalk.

Dairyman Gibbs ran out and tried to detach the young man by pulling on his legs. He retired into his diary precipitately with his nerves tingling with electricity.

Nobody in the crowd seemed to know what to do for the prostrate young man. The flesh on the palms of his hands was burning so that the odor was perceptible. It was at this juncture that Orlando D. Ferado demonstrated that general presence of mind may sometimes co-exist with the Italian temperament. Orlando keeps a fruit and peanut stand in front of Hegeman's drug store, at Eighth street. He rushed to his stand, banged open a little door underneath, and jerked out a hatchet. He ran double quick to the place where the young fellow lay and cut off about ten feet of wire to which Linnell was attached by a vigorous blow of the hatchet. There was much tension on the wire and the live part of it curled all around Orlando, but fortunately didn't touch him, when he cut it. He got a sharp shock himself through the hatchet handle.

Young Mr. Linnell was picked up and taken into the drug store. The palms of both his hands were badly burned. An alarm of fire brought four engines around, just after Linnell's release. The police were kept busy for half an hour keeping people away from the wire. A lineman from the United States Illuminating Company then came and fixed things. Lights on Broadway in the neighborhood were out for half an hour. Mr. Linnell was taken to St. Vincent's Hospital. He was dangerously hurt. He is 22 years old, and lives at 131 West 13th street. The insulating material covering the wire was so wet and worn as to be almost useless.

Mr. Charles Tupper keeps a restaurant at 26 Eighth avenue, and is fond of dogs. Last night in a corner of his kitchen two valuable setters and six puppies made merry, but in another room a splendid eighty-pound New Foundland lay dead, killed by the latest improvement. Mr. Tupper says he was worth $500, and of Bickerton's stock at Bay Shore.

Yesterday afternoon Mr. Tupper was standing in front of his restaurant watching some linemen who were cutting down Western Union wires. One wire had been cut from a pole on the northeast corner of Twenty-first street, at one end, and from another pole at Twenty-second street at the other end. The middle of the wire was still attached to a pole almost in front of the restaurant. There was a man on top of this pole, and two more men at the Twenty-first street corner were winding up the slack of the wire, while still another man was holding the wire near Twenty-second street, and letting it run through his hands.

Suddenly this one threw up his hands and fell insensible on the sidewalk. Tupper saw him fall and shouted to the foreman, who stood near him, but who did not seem to think it much of an occurrence. Then the two men at the other end of the wire tumbled over, just as their companion had. People ran to their assistance, and Mr. Tupper started to see how the first man was getting on.

Just then Dash came down stairs with a paper which Mrs.Tupper was was sending to her husband. Dash was the errand boy of the family. Accompanied by the big dog, Mr. Tupper walked to the prostrate man, who was being vigorously rubbed by a man who had jumped from a sand cart. Dash started to cross the street, and his forepaws struck the wire. Bystanders say the dog went four feet into the air and then came down with his body square across the wire, a lay there struggling convulsively. Tupper rushed forward to lift him off the wire, when he was seized by two men, who shouted:

"Good God man! Don't touch that dog unless you want to be killed."

Tupper then ran to the foreman and begged him to do something. The foreman ordered the man on the pole to cut the wire, but he shouted down that he couldn't . By this time poor Dash had stopped kicking. Finally a lineman got a hatchet and cut the wire. The man came to all right. The dog died three hours later. The sagging wire had crossed a live electric wire belonging to the Manhattan Incandescent Company. Tupper had a policeman arrest the foreman, John S. Fretts. At Jefferson market Fretts was discharged.

Worcester Daily Spy, Worcester, MA 4 Jul 1889