Riverpoint, RI Caught in Machinery, Jun 1900


17-Year-Old James Ford was Caught in the Machinery and Mangled.


Providence, June 21--The most shocking accident in the history of the works occurred at the Clyde Print Works, Riverpoint, yesterday afternoon. James Ford, a lad of 17 years, was wound around a shaft in the bleachery, and before the engine could be shut down his mangled, lifeless body had been buried to the floor.

The accident occurred about 2:30 o'clock. A washing machine, one of the huge contrivances through which the almost endless lengths of cloth are rushed at a speed of thousand of yards per hour, had been stopped during the greater part of the day. Patrick Coyle and Bernard McCormick had undertaken to insert a piece of belting for the purpose of lengthening the three-linen belt which drives the washing machine.

Young Ford was sent up a ladder to hold the belt while the two young men clamped the ends of the belt together with the iron hooks used for that purpose. The belt was off the driving pulley at the time, lying on the swift-running shaft and it was to prevent the tugging caused by the friction of the shaft pulling the belt away from the young men who were affixing the clamps that young Ford was sent up the ladder to hold it.

Neither Coyle nor McCormick could tell just how it happened, but suddenly the belt was pulled away from them and a second later they were horrified to see Ford enveloped in the belt, being whirled around the shaft.

Frank Ford, a brother of the victim, saw the accident, his brother's peril, and ran to the engine room to give the alarm and have the machinery stopped. The steam was shut off at once, but before the shafting had ceased to revolve the body of young Ford, freed from the shaft by the same force which had caught it, was flung to the floor at the feet of his brother and horror stricken companions.

Drs. Sprague and Smith, the former was at the time of the accident calling at the home of John McCusker, foreman of the bleachery, were sent for, but on their arrival a few minutes after the accident, saw at once that nothing could be done.

Both arms and part of one of the legs had been torn from the trunk, which lay lifeless on the wet floor of the bleachery. The ceiling and the beams which supported the shafting were covered with blood and portions of the clothing of the body.

Medical Examiner Eastman was telephoned for and after viewing the remains turned the body over in Undertaker Gough, who removed it to his undertaking rooms at Riverpoint.

The victim of the accident was in his 18th year and the son of Mary and the late James Ford, who died about a year ago. He was employed to run a washing machine in the bleachery and had been at work there about a month.

The manner of piecing or shortening belts which was employed in this particular instance, is an every day occurrence. Just what caused the belt to be drawn around the shaft and why young Ford was unable to let go will probably never be known. The opinion is, however, that another belt clasp caught his hands or clothing as the belt slipped by and pulled him to the shaft before he could extricate himself.

His widowed mother and brothers overcome with the calamity which had overtaken a member of their family and the accident has cast a gloom over the entire neighborhood, where so many families feel that one of their boys employed at the works might have been the victim instead of young Ford.

So far as can be learned there is no blame attaching to anyone for the fatality. Risks are run daily in every manufacturing establishment in the valley by those who have the care and handling of belts. The risks should not be taken, but so long perhaps, as it is looked upon as indicating a lack of skill or courage to adopt the precautions which ought to be insisted on by those in charge, accidents such as that of yesterday are liable to occur.

Pawtucket Times, Pawtucket, RI 21 Jun 1900