Wilmot, SD auto wreck, Feb 1921


John Larkin of Graceville Killed When Car Plunges Off Grade - Two Others In Critical Condition.

John Larkin of Graceville, former service man and son of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Larkin of that place, was instantly killed, and Ross Reynolds and John Althoff, also of Graceville, injured so severely that they are now in a critical condition, as the result of an accident which happened sometime after midnight Thursday, February 17, when the car in which they were riding plunged off an eight-foot grade about two miles south of Wilmot, S. D.

That Larkin's death was instantaneous is the opinion held. His body was thrown clear of the car and rested about thirty-five feet from it when he was found. His head was so badly crushed that he could not have possibly lived any time. Straps from the top of the car were still over his shoulders which indicated that he had been thrown thru the top. This was also the fate of the others.

According to the version of the accident which was sent out from Wilmot and later corroborated at Graceville, the accident must have occurred sometime between 1:30 and 3:30 o'clock Friday morning.

The first that was known of it was when John Althoff, his scalp badly lacerated and he himself suffering from shock and exposure, arrived at a farm house about two miles away at 5:30 in the morning. He was unable to give any information of the other two men or tell anything about the accident. Children passing by that place on their way to school that morning found them and notified others. The scene of the accident was on the road between Corona and Wilmot at a place about two miles south of the latter. A steep embankment enabled the car to virtually fly thru the air when it left the road and turn end over end. Just a short distance beyond the grade at the place where the car left the road there is a turn which is an approach to a bridge.

The car a new Oakland Six roadster, was completely demolished. The speed at which they were travelling is not known, nor is it known who was driving the car.

These three men, and R. C. O'Neill of Graceville, had gone to Wilmot with the intention of buying a pool-hall there. The deal there was not made, and on hearing of a similar proposition at Corona they left for that place, O'Neill remaining at Wilmot because the car was too crowded. It was on their return from Corona that the accident happened.

Reynolds and Althoff were immediately taken to the hospital at Wilmot. Reynolds suffered a broken arm, injuries about the head, and as the result of laying in an unconscious condition on the ice there for more than six hours, his feet and legs were badly frozen. His head was frozen to the ice when he was found. Only until Wednesday afternoon did he regain consciousness, and then only for a short time. He was unable then to tell anything about the accident. Reynolds is married, and has been in business at Graceville for the last three or four years, owning a drugstore. He lived in Ortonville about the year 1905, attending high school here.

The condition of Althoff was also very critical, and his chances for recovery are also slight.

Larking was with the 88th Division on entering the service, but was later transferred to the 33rd Division, and with it saw a good deal of service overseas.

The Ortonville Independent, Ortonville, MN 24 Feb 1921