Trenton, NJ Five Die When Auto Plunges into Water, Jan 1912
Take Bodies Of Two Girls And Reed From Water Power Where 2 More Lost Lives
Son of Former Supreme Court Justice and Well-Known Automobile Salesman Are Drowned in machine After Midnight Trip With Three Girls, While Frederick M. Foster Narrowly Escaped Like Fate and May Contract Pneumonia From His Terrible Exposure
DONALD REED, son of former Supreme Court Justice Alfred Reed of Reed's Manor.
CHESTER VAN CLEEF, an automobile salesman of 36 Livingston Street.
HELEN MULVEY, of 140 South Stockton Street.
MARGARET TINDALL, of 218 Butler Street.
ANNIE GUBOSKY, alias SARAH HETZEL, of Baltimore.
These five young people met their deaths at an early hour this morning when an automobile driven by Frederick Mulford Foster, of 369 West State Street, plunged into the water power just above Brookville. Foster was the only one of the party of six who escaped alive.
Had not Foster succeeded in escaping the fact that the party had been driven into the water power might have remained a mystery for some time, as the car was completely submerged.
Foster was driving the big Lozier car of his father, J. William Foster, who is general manager of the Strauss Yarn and Woolen Mills of this city.
Foster Disobeyed Father's Command
Mr. and Mrs. Foster, the parents of the young man, were in New York City, and the car was taken without the father's permission.
In fact since the accident of last winter, in which young Foster figured, when "Jack" Colgan was killed driving a Lozier car, belonging to the Fosters, near New Brunswick, young Foster had been absolutely forbidden to use the car, and last night was the first time that he had disobeyed his father's orders, and taken out the automobile.
The car used last night was a new one, having been purchased after the accident of last winter, when the Fosters' Lozier car was badly damaged.
The bodies of Miss MULVEY and Miss TINDALL were taken from the water about 6 o'clock this morning. Miss HETZEL's body has not been recovered, nor has that of VAN CLEEF, although through the cleat water of the stream the face of VAN CLEEF can be plainly seen. He is held fast by the steering wheel of the car.
Foster is suffering from the effects of the shock. After crawling from the icy stream he made his way to Schmidt's Wilburtha roadhouse, which is about a mile up the road. When Foster got there he was coated with ice and it was necessary to cut his clothing from his body.
Foster, although in a serious condition, will recover. He was kept at Schmidt's place until shortly before noon, when his brother, William Foster, took him in an automobile to Mercer Hospital. Dr. Nelson B. Oliphant was called after Foster reached Schmidt's and treated him. The young man's feet are frozen and his whole system was shaken.
Young and Old Autoists Go the Pace
The accident was the ending of a joy ride which Foster says started at midnight. He insists that not a stop was made from the time the party left the center of the city until the fatality. It is known however, that the party reached Schmidt's place about 11:20 and had several drinks there. Schmidt denies that the party was there.
The young men have all been traveling at a pretty fast clip, with a group of other sons of well-to-do citizens and have been spending money quite liberally.
The practice of joy riding with girls of easy reputation is one that has grown very considerably of late among automobilists of Trenton, both young and old, and the parties that journey from Trenton to the Wilburtha Road house have been very numerous.
The young men met the girls on East Hanover Street, near Broad, and invited them to go for a "joy ride"- Foster's machine was nearby and the start was soon made.
According to Foster's own story, this was at midnight, and they went straight up the River Road to the Fisk residence, where the turn was made for Trenton. He said that the machine skidded many times and the going was dangerous. The marks in the road show that the big auto nearly left the highway several times.
Struggle For Life in Car Was Terrific
Near Brookeville, according to Foster, the machine skidded again and went between two trees over the embankment and into the water power. There was hardly room enough for the machine to pass between the trees and an inch to one way or the other would have resulted in a collision between the auto and one of the trees.
The stream was covered with ice and the machine cut its way through fine and clean. After striking the water the big Lozier car swerved completely around throwing the front of the car around toward the near bank of the stream. This gave Foster his opportunity to reach the shore while all the others were fastened in the water.
Crazed by his struggle and stunned by his icy plunge Foster crept along the road to Schmidt's road house. He knocked feebly at the door until he aroused the proprietor to whom he told the awful details of the fatality. He willingly gave the names of young REED and VAN CLEEF, but for some time it was not known that three girls were carried into eternity. Dr. Arthur Wareham of Yardley was summoned and the Trenton police notified. It was while Dr. Wareham was working over Foster that it became known that three girls were members of the "joy" party.
Searchlight Discloses Body In the Water
Then the hint for the bodied began. It beggars description. Volunteers arrived from Trenton, for the word quickly spread, that two of the best known young men of the city had been drowned. Coroner Bower with a force of men started immediately to work and with the thermometer hovering around zero the search started.
The powerful search light of the machine was not extinguished by the plunge into the water power and it aided the searchers in the probable resting place of the victims.
About 6 o'clock this morning the frozen remains of the MULVEY girl were taken from the water by Walter Gilmore, of 129 East Front Street, and Frank McConville, a taxi cab driver.
The light made by the moon enabled the men to see the white hand of Miss MULVEY and they reached down and got it. As they pulled the form of the unfortunate girl from the water they saw a man in a light overcoat and before it could be prevented this for was swept down the stream. It is believed to have been the body of young REED.
The TINDALL girl was pulled from the water about an hour later and both the bodies were taken to the Poulson & Coleman morgue. The MULVEY girl was identified by the finding of a library card in her pocket. A number of persons who stopped in to view the bodies recognized the TINDALL girl.
All through the morning the search continued for the bodies of the other two victims, but so far it has been of no avail. John L. Brock has a force of men at the scene and an effort is being made to raise the car by means of chains. It is hoped that the other bodies will still be found in the rear of the machine.
The body of the TINDALL girl was taken out of the rear seat after pat of the car had been chopped away.
The struggle for life of the occupants of the car must have been terrific. Foster was driving and VAN CLEEF occupied the seat at his side.
It is presumed that Foster's hand became numbed and that he lost control of the powerful Lozier. He says the machine skidded, although the tracks in the snow show no trace of it swerving from its course. The young driver has made this trip many times and was perfectly familiar with the dangerous curve at this point in the road.
It may be that he was confused by the glare of the snow and ice and failed to realize he was so near to the curve. Automobilists say that steering gears are apt to freeze, and if such was the case Foster would have no control over the machine.
Death Struggle In Car Most Horrible
In the rear seat were the three girls and REED. They were crowded in as the seat would only accommodate comfortably three persons. The cover was on the car and the curtains were drawn over the sides.
Escape was impossible. When the car turned completely around in the stream it rolled on one side. Foster's side went up, VAN CLEEF was pinned down, REED and the three girls were prisoners in the rear. Death must have been instantaneous.
At half past twelve this afternoon Coroner Bower and his force of men found the body of young REED. It showed signs of the terrible struggle which must have taken place. The young man had forced himself half through the curtain only to be caught and held like a vise in his watery grave. The bodies of the other two victims are still in the stream.
All morning long the scene was visited by crowds of curious people. There were relatives and friends of the five victims and many of the sights were heart rendering. Former Justice Alfred Reed sent a number of his employees to aid in the rescue work and young REED'S brother-in-law, Edward Miers, aided in taking his body from the stream.
Coroner Bower, County Physician Scammell and Assistant Prosecutor Trapp had a conference and an inquest will be immediately ordered. If the evidence produced warrants, young Foster could be held by the Coroner for contributory negligence.
Picked Girls Up On Hanover Street
The body of young REED was taken in charge by Ivins & Taylor and the funeral will be held from Reed's Manor.
The accident this morning was the result of a "joy ride" such as has been taken by these young men many times. It has been practice for many months for young men about the city to pick up girls and take them to Schmidt's place and other road houses in the vicinity of Trenton. REED, VAN CLEEF, and FOSTER are three of the city's best known young men.
On March 12 last, Foster and a party were thrown over an embankment near New Brunswick. They were driving a Lozier car. "Jack" Colgan the famous bicyclist was killed. Foster's brother, William, was permanently injured. Frederick Foster was not seriously hurt.
Victims Were Well Known About Town
DONAL REED was the only son of former Supreme Court Justice Alfred and Mrs. Reed. He was a graduate of Lawrenceville, and since leaving college has been connected with the business department of the Trenton Potteries Company. On the 22nd of this month he would have celebrated his 22nd birthday anniversary. He was a member of the City Club and the Country Club and was active in both organizations. Former Justice Reed was greatly shocked when informed of the fatality about 3 o'clock this morning and his condition is rather serious.
The third young man, CHESTER A. VAN CLEEF, resided with his mother and sister at 30 Livingston Street. He was an auto salesman employed by R.C. Manning and was the local agent of the Oakland car. VAN CLEEF was only 20 years old and the youngest auto salesman in the city. He returned to Trenton about six months ago from the West, where he had been for many months. VAN CLEEF'S mother is Mrs. Georgia Capper, and his sister Miss Violet Van Cleef.
Miss TINDALL lived with her aunt, Mrs. Albert Shaw, 218 Butler Street. When Mrs. Shaw was informed of Miss TINDALL'S death this morning she was prostrated. The aunt had been waiting for the girl all during the night and when MARGARET failed to return home Mrs. Shaw was much worried. The body of the girl will be sent to the Shaw home. Her parents were the late Mr. and Mrs. Charles Tindall. The father was a member of the local fire department and while in the discharge of his duty received injuries of which he died.
HELEN MULVEY was 19 years old and resided at 140 South Stockton Street. Her brother was to have sailed this afternoon for Florida, but was reached this morning by telephone and was told of the death of his sister. He came back to this city immediately. Miss MULVEY came originally from New Haven, where her father still resides. Her mother is dead. Miss MULVEY intended to return to New Haven this afternoon to see her father. He has been notified of her death. The girl was employed by the Diamond Hair Goods Company of New York, which has a branch in this city. Her brother, Joseph Mulvey is a sign painter, and well known here.
The third girl, Miss HETZEL, comes from Baltimore. She is understood not to have any relatives in this city, and her residence is Trenton is not definitely known. The girl was frequently seen on the streets of the city. It is not known where she worked. Her body will be held at the morgue until claimed by relatives.
One of the peculiar features about the accident was the manner in which the machine crashed through the ice. The hood of the auto got its way clear and clean and the opening seemed hardly big enough to let the whole machine through.
About 3 o'clock this morning Dr. Nelson B. Oliphant was called from his home to attend young Foster at Schmidt's road house. He drove his automobile to Wilburtha and after attending Foster fount that his own hands were frozen.
Dr. Oliphant's condition finally became so serious that it was needed for other physicians to attend [illegible]. They worked over him for several hours and it is thought that no serious results will follow the freezing of his hands.
It was in the vicinity of this accident that George B. Holcombe, a well known newspaperman was killed a number of years ago. He was in a machine being driven by E. Yard Breese when the accident occurred. Holcombe was killed instantly and Breese lingered between life and death for many weeks. Delicate operation finally saved his life.
Foster was asked today how he got out of the machine. He was not able to tell anything about the accident. He said he remembered nothing. The machine left the road and the next he knew was when he found himself running up to the Schmidt road house. Foster acted as though he was dazed and hi recollection of everything which happened was hazy.
Reed's Uncle Was Killed The Same Way
The drowning of young REED recalls a similar affair about 35 years ago in which his uncle, Dr. Edward Reed, lost his life in the feeder of the Delaware and Raritan Canal at Scudder's Falls, a few miles from the scene of the accident last night.
Dr. Reed was a brother of former Supreme Court Justice Reed, father of one of the victims of the present tragedy. The doctor was a druggist and physician and conducted a pharmacy at Perry and Southard Streets, where Charles H. Young now conducts a drug business.
Dr. Reed and Harry Paxon with two women took a drive up the river bank and turned into the back road. While driving along a newly whitewashed fence with a pair of spirited horses and a closed coach, a storm came up and in a flash of lightning against the fence frightened the animals. They shied over the bank, sweeping the entire party and vehicle into the feeder.
The driver was Charles Wooley, a well known negro coachman of this city. He with Paxon and one of the women escaped but Dr. Reed and the other woman were drowned in the coach like rats in a trap.
The horses were a valuable team and Wooley cut the harness, rescuing them while the occupants of the coach had a death struggle as the vehicle rolled down the bank and sank beneath the water.
Trenton Evening Times, Trenton, NJ 13 Jan 1912