January 25, 1910
WRECKED AUTO WHICH PLUNGED OVER EMBANKMENT ON CLIFF DRIVE, KILLING THREE.
Three persons were killed and three, who by a miraculous streak of providence escaped death, were injured yesterday afternoon when a large automobile plunged over an eighty-foot embankment on the Cliff drive, at Scarritt's Point. The dead:
John Mahoney, aged 51, grading contractor, 616 North Seventh street, Kansas City, Kas.
Mrs. John Mahoney, aged 46 years.
Thomas McGuire, 50, a foreman for Mr. Mahoney; resided at 53 South Forest avenue, Kansas City, Kas. Father of six children.
John O'Connor, 42 years old, of Fifty-first street and Swope parkway.
Miss Nellie Mahoney, 19 years old, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Mahoney.
Lillian, 6-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Mahoney.
The O'Connors also have two other children, John, age 8, and Anna, age 13, who were in school at the time of the fatal crash which claimed their parents.
The accident is ascribed to a slippery condition of the driveway, water which trickled from the cliff having frozen. The machine, in rounding the curve at Scarritt's point, evidently skidded on the ice toward the precipice at the outer edge of the drive. Mahoney, who was the contractor that had charge of the grading work on this scenic drive, was driving the car. He evidently tried to steer it toward the cliff, with the result that t he heavy rear end of the car was thrown completely around, the rear wheels crashing through a fence and over the abyss.
At the point where the machine went over the cliff there is a sheer descent of probably forty feet, with probably forty feet more of steep hillside ending in an accumulation of boulders. Tracks in the roadway showed where the rear wheels of the car had backed over the precipice and the entire car was precipitated upon the rocks below, alighting on its side and crushing two of the victims. The others either landed on the rocks or were caught in the wreckage.
The scene of the accident is just above and a little to the southeast of the Heim brewery and the men who witnessed the tragedy, or who were attracted by the piteous cries of the victims, rushed to the place and gave first aid to the injured. Police from No. 8 station, who were notified, carried the injured down the cliff, which owing to the slippery condition of the ground, is almost impassable even for pedestrians, placed them in the police ambulance and hurried them to hospitals. The dead were removed later to undertaking establishments, the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Mahoney being taken to the Leo J. Stewart parlors and that of Mr. McGuire to Carroll-Davidson's.
The scene following the tragedy was a sickening and pitiable one. the first persons to arrive found pinioned under the wreckage of the big motor car the mangled bodies of Mr. Mahoney, Mr. McGuire, Mr. O'Connor and the two girls. Mrs. Mahoney lay on the rocks at the rear of the machine unconscious, but still alive. She expired within ten minutes. Mr. Mahoney and Mr. McGuire were killed outright evidently.
The younger daughter of the Mahoneys still grasped a doll which she had carried in her arms in the machine and, gazing upon the forms of her parents as they lay still puon the frozen ground she cried piteously:
"I want my papa, I want my mamma."
It was with difficulty that she was induced to leave the spot and her childish grief brought tears to the eyes of every bystander. Miss Mahoney was dazed badly. She talked little, though seeming to partially realize what had happened, and just before she was placed in the police ambulance she was prostrated. Mr. O'Connor also was dazed, though he walked about and declared he was not hurt.
Daniel Ferhnback, 19 years old, of 28 Bigelow street, just below Scarritt's Point, with Thomas Nelligan, 10 years old, were eye-witnesses to the accident. Ferhnback was chopping wood in his yard and the Nelligan boy was with him when they glanced up and saw the machine go over the brink of the hill.
"It was terrible," said Ferhnback. "The rear end went over first and the whole thing fell down into the hollow. It was done so quickly I hardly knew what had happened, but it seemed to me that the machine partly turned over. The noise sounded like a bunch of sewer pipe falling and hitting something."
For a moment, Ferhnback said, he scarcely knew what to do. Then he heard a cry, "O, God! O, God! " It was Mr. O'Connor pinioned under the car.
Ferhnback and his boy companion at once started up the hill but Nelligan, being more nimble, arrived at the top first. The boy took one look at the mass of twisted iron and wood and at the blood covered bodies under and about the machine and he ran back the winding path to where Ferhnback was hurrying up.
"It's awful," said the boy, covering his face with his hands as if to shut out the sight.
About the time that Ferhnback and Nelligan were horrified to see the machine plunge over the cliff, M. G. Givson, of 2026 Charlotte street, was walking along the Chicago & Alton tracks, far below the Cliff drive. He hears a crash but paid no attention to it and was startled by the screams of a woman, evidently one of the Mahoney sisters. He also rushed up the hill, arriving about the time that Ferhnback reached the top.
Mr. Gibson picked up the little Mahoney child and bandaged her head with handkerchiefs. Mrs. Mahoney lay free of the car, and Mr. Gibson said that she still breathed when he arrived. He took one of the cushions which had been hurled from the automobile and placed it under the woman's head, but within ten minutes she was dead.
Miss Nellie Mahoney was carried to one side by the two men, who made her as comfortable as possible. Mr. O'Connor lay with one leg pinioned under a rear wheel of the car, a short distance from the body of Mrs. Mahoney. Mr. Gibson and Mr. Ferhnback managed to lift the rear portion of the car enough to extricate the man and Mr. O'Connor immediately got up and walked about, declaring that he had no pain and that he was all right.
The accident happened at 3:15 o'clock. It was not so very many minutes later that Mr. Gibson, having done everything he could to help the injured, ran to No. 8 police station, 3001 Guinotte street. Sergeant Edward McNamara, Patrolman Gus Metzinger and Motorcycleman George A. Lyon responded at once. They were joined later by Park Policeman W. F. Beabout and the police carried the two Mahoney girls and assisted Mr. O'Connor down the cliff to the ambulance.
Coroner B. H. Zwart went in peerson to view the bodies, and he summoned undertakers. It was 5 o'clock before the bodies finally were removed, the conditions in the vicinity of the scene of the horror making it difficult to carry the bodies out.
Even the coroner, accustomed as he is to such things, was moved at the horror of the scene. Mr. Mahoney lay crushed under the car and a piece of the spokes of the machine was found to have penetrated his adbomen.
The Point, which is the highest on the Cliff drive, lies under the shadow of the north side of the cliff. the sun does not strike there, save during a small portion of the day, and water which runs down the hill is frozen, as it trickles across the roadway, into a mass of treacherous ice, making it difficult for motor cars without ice clutches to round the curve at that point without skidding.
Mr. Mahoney, who was driving the machine, sat in the front seat with Mr. McGuire, and the others sat in the rear seat. The car was a seven-passenger Pierce-Arrow. The tracks in the driveway show that the machine came round the curve well within the middle of the roadway and away from the precipice. It is probable that Mahoney had noticed the slippery condition of the pavement and purposely kept away from the brink.
When the fatal stretch of ice was reached, however, the auto was shown to have skidded greatly toward the chasm and the theory is that Mahoney, in order to avoid the very thing which happened, headed his car toward the inside of the road. If he did, he miscalculated terribly, for this swung the heavy rear of the car around over the edge of the cliff and the ill-fated occupants were hurled down up the rocks. The wooden fence, through wh ich the auto smashed, was erected as a warning to daring motorists. It went out as if made of egg shell.
That the machine did not take fire and add to the horror is believed to have been due to a final effort of Mr. Mahoney. the engine was found to have been shut down entirely, and it is believed that Mr. Mahoney automatically pulled his lever as the machine shot backward over the precipice.
At the emergency hospital, whither the two Mahoney girls and Mr. O'Connor were removed, it was stated last evening that Mr. O'Connor's case is the least serious of any of the injured. He sustained a wound on the back of his head and some bruises. He probably will recover.
After being removed to the hospital, little Lillian Mahoney lapsed into a coma and Miss Nellie Mahoney became hysterical. It was stated that neither of the girls knew that their parents are dead. It was feared neither could stand the shock.
The condition of both the girls is regarded as serious. Miss Nellie sustained a dislocation of one of the shoulders, a fracture of the right arm and bruises about the body.
The younger girl received a bad cut about the back of the head and bruises about the body. Both girls are suffering terribly from nervous shock, and this is what makes their cases so grave.
It was said at St. Margaret's hospital at midnight that Lillian Mahoney is probably fatally injured. The child is under the effects of opiates. It is belived her skull is fractured.
Mr. Mahoney executed the grading work on the very driveway where he, with his wife, met death. It is said that he was familiar with every foot of the ground along the roadway and that because of the pride which he took in the work he particularly liked taking a spin in his machine along the course.
The ill-fated machine was purchased by Mr. Mahoney from the estate of Mrs. Mary S. Dickerson, who died. It is said that Mr. Mahoney paid $3,500 for the car.
A telegram telling of the death of Mr. Mahoney was dispatched late last night to his old schoolmate and business partner, Justice Michael Ross, who is now visiting in Jacksonville, Fla. Mrs. Ross went to the residence of the dead contractor last night and arranged to take charge of the children.
"My husband and Mr. mahoney were lifelong friends. I know if Michael were here he would want me to take care of the children and and give them a temporary or even a permanent home," Mrs. Ross said.
Annie and Johnny Mahoney heard about the catastrophe at 4:30 o'clock in the afternoon. They were overwhelmed with grief.
"Oh, I told papa not to buy that auto. I told him all along it would lead to some accident," sobbed the girl.
The boy, four years younger, soon quieted himself and began to assure his sister. The children were taken last night to the Ross home, where they may stay permanently.