Coney Island, NY Lightning Strike Fells Thirty, July 1905




Two Women Thrown From Trolley in Gravesend at the Other Corner of a Deadly Triangle.

Five persons were killed and eight were seriously injured by lightning at the Parkway Baths, between Coney Island and Brighton Beach at 4:35 o'clock yesterday afternoon. At the same time one person was killed and three were badly burned by a lightning stroke at Ulmer Park. Two women were thrown from a trolley car as the result of the shock from a lightning flash on Gravesend Avenue.
The accidents occurred simultaneously and at the corners of an equilateral triangle, each side of which is a mile long. Scores were injured in a lesser degree, and were able to go to their homes.
The Dead:
At The Parkway Baths.
DEMMERLEE, CHARLES R., twenty years old, 372 East Sixteenth Street, Flatbush.
DEMMERLEE, FRANK, twenty-three years old, brother of CHARLES R. and of the same address.
DUNWOODIE, GEORGE, a member of the Acorn Athletic Club at 332 Ninth Street, Brooklyn.
FRANKLIN, JACOB, of 228 East Seventy-first Street, Manhattan.
WASCH, ROBERT, sixteen years old, of Prospect and Tremont Avenues, the Bronx, a cousin of the DEMMERLEE brothers.
At Ulmer Park.
RALZAILDER, HENRY, forty-five years old, of 197 Bush Street, Brooklyn.
The Injured:
CHRISTIANSEN, TINA, of 455 Pacific Street, Brooklyn; shock, loss of memory, and burned about the breast; taken to the Emergency Hospital at Coney Island.
CURLEY, MARY L., twenty years old, of 580A Gates Avenue, Brooklyn; burned about the head and feet; taken to the Emergency Hospital.
DUNNE, JAMES J., twenty-four years old, of 269 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn; severely burned; taken to the Emergency Hospital.
KROHN, CARRIE, nineteen years old, telephone operator at 897 South Fifth Street, Williamsburg; badly burned; taken to the Emergency Hospital.
MILL, DAVID, twenty-one years old, of 19 Fillmore Place, Brooklyn; burns on feet; taken to Emergency Hospital.
REES, ISAAC, thirty-four-years old, lives in Dean Street, Brooklyn; burns at base of skull, down back, and both legs; taken away by friends; wife seeking him.
SHEEHAN, AMELIA, fifty years old, of 808 East One Hundred and Forty-second Street, the Bronx; badly burned; taken to the Emergency Hospital.
THIEL, CLARA, ninteen[sic] years old, of Twelfth Street and Eighth Avenue, Brooklyn; severely burned; taken to the Emergency Hospital.
At Ulmer Park.
APPLE, JOHN, fifty-two years old, of 188 Tenth Street, Brooklyn; badly burned; taken to the Norwegian Hospital.
McCAULEY, DANIEL, thirty-one years old, of 306 Twelfth Street, Brooklyn; burned about the body; taken to the Norwegian Hospital.
RALZAILDER, WILLIAM, thirteen years old, of Bush Street, Brooklyn; severely burned.
Those killed and injured at the Parkway Baths were near the foot of a flagpole which was shattered by the bolt of lightning. At Ulmer Park the fatality and injuries occurred beneath a tree.
It started to rain shortly after 4 o'clock at Coney Island and Brighton Beach. Clouds had been rolling up from the south and east for an hour, and the distant rumbling of thunder had been heard. It had not been loud enough, however, to attract much attention. Even when the heavy banks of clouds had merged in a seemingly impenetrable wall and the rain began the downpour was not pronounced enough to drive bathers long the beach to shelter. Hundreds who weren't bathing stayed out, too.
An ominous clap of thunder broke the comparative quiet at 4:30 o'clock and hundreds sought shelter in the spacious bathing pavillion and adjacent hotels in dread of a drenching.
Torrent Made It Dark.
A minute later the rain fell in real earnest, a slanting, driving torrent, while at the same instant the heavens were obscured as if it were twilight. The crowds huddled together or broke to the nearest remaining shelter as their instincts prompted.
Among those who joined in the flight were perhaps 200 bathers, who ran laughing across the narrow stretch of sand that separated them from the steps leading to the bathing pavilion and the boardwalk.
The boardwalk is raised above the beach, and this furnished a partial shelter for scores.
A flagpole reas its ninety feet at this point. A hundred persons wre either standing under the edge of the walk near the pole or had nearly reached it when a flash of flame struck the pole, ran down its length, and hurled all those near it to the ground. They fell outward on either side as though cast down by a giant's strength.
Flag Sent to Half-Mast.
The flash was accompanied by a deafening, splintering crash. The flagpole was shattered, the big flag was torn to ribbons and dropped to half-mast, where it hung for an hour and a half.
Some thirty persons fell on the sand at the flash, and half of them regained their feet in a few minutes. Some stirred feebly, but five, all young men, lay motionless in their bathing suits. They were all dead, and their bodies had been blackened by the flame. None of them was closer than five feet to the flagpole, yet one man who had stood with his back against it regained his feet and groped his was across the sands until friends who recognized him took him away to some hospital, the location of which his wife had not learned late last night. This was ISAAC REES.
After the stroke there was a rush to the flagpole. Fully 2,000 persons crowded about to see if any of their friends were among the killed or injured. Women screamed, and some of them fainted, and there was so much confusion that it was some time before the dead were picked out from those who were only stunned or burned.
JOHN MANZER a young man employed by the Boer War show, was standing on the boardwalk with his megaphone announceing the features of the spectacle, when the lightning struck the pole. He looked over the rail and upon seeing the prostrate forms on the sand rushed into the bathing pavilion and notified Manager PHILIP BRASHER, a Princeton senior, one of the many college students employed there, that several persons were killed.
A lesser accident happened at Gravesend Avenue and Neck Road at exactly 4:35 o'clock. Car No. 820 of the Tompkins Avenue line was there when the flash came. It struck the trolley wire, traveled to the pole, and down the pole into the car.
A terrific crash accompanied the flash and the concussion threw MRS. and MISS SEDER of 30 Tompkins Avenue into the ditch, which was filled with muddy water. MISS SPATZ of 107 Hopkins Street was also shocked. All the other passengers escaped injury and all were able to proceed on their way in a few minutes.
The car was not damaged.

The New York Times New York 1905-07-31