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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


The New York Times
April 10, 1914

Clifford Palmer Thrown from His Father's Car as It Overturned.


Chauffeur Whose Car Hurled Other Off the Road Put On Power and Tried to Escape.

Special to The New York Times.

WEST ORANGE, N. J., April 9.—Two automobiles racing on Prospect Avenue this morning came in collision near the Mountain Ridge Country Club with the result that Clifford Palmer, 4 years old, was killed almost instantly; his father, Frank C. Palmer, who was driving one car had his collar bone dislocated; Mrs. Palmer suffered a dislocated hip, and Kenenth Palmer, an elder son, and Mrs. James Regan of Day Street, Orange, were slightly hurt.

The Palmers live in North Centre Street, Orange, and Mr. Palmer is a dealer in eggs.  The car they were racing with was driven by John Hodge, a chauffeur, who had been given permission by his employer, F. C. Hall, manager of the Hotel Montclair at Montclair, to use the automobile for the afternoon.  With Hodge were Helen Sullivan and Barbara Golsong, employed in the hotel Montclair office, and James J. Byrne, the night clerk.  When the collision came the Palmer car was hurled twenty feet to one side of the road, and after tearing through a barbed wire fence it fell over on its side after whirling completely around.

Hodge is held by the West Orange police under bail of $10,000, and will be charged with manslaughter.  Bail was first fixed at $5,000, but when it became known that he had tried to escape after the accident it was doubled.  As soon as the news reached the State Department of Motor Vehicles Hodge's license was canceled.

When Motor Cycle Policeman Bernard Healin reached the scene Mrs. Palmer was sitting on the ground beside the overturned car holding her son's still form in her arms.  The arrival of the ambulance from the Orange Memorial Hospital with a surgeon revealed that the little boy was dead.  As the doctor took the body from its mother's arms she swooned.  Mrs. Palmer and Mrs. Regan, with Kenneth Palmer, were taken to the hospital in the ambulance, while Dr. M. Herbert Simmons, County Physician, took Palmer and the dead child to Police Headquarters.  From there Palmer went to the hospital.

Detective Walter Godfrey and Chief of Police William H. Bamford conducted an investigation, part of which included photographing both machines.  The Hall car was unscathed except for a bent mudguard in the rear of the right side.  The bent mudguard makes the police think that Hodge shot ahead of Palmer and cut across the front, striking the Palmer car and turning it from its course.  Palmer then, it is presumed, lost control, and the car, which was going fast, pitched into the lot, carrying a barbed wire fence with it.

The crash attracted the attention of Frederick Crosklaus, a mounted policeman of the Essex County Park force, who stood 1,000 feet ahead of the cars as they raced toward him going north.  The point of collision was just south of the Mountain Ridge Country Club, and alongside the road are the golf club links.  The wrecked car landed on the opposite or east side of the road.  Crosklaus had not noticed the cars until he heard the crash and the screams of the women.  He says that Hodge put on power at that instant, and attempted to escape, but halted when the policeman called to him repeatedly.

Hodge told the police that he and Palmer had both been racing, and that the accident happened when Palmer was trying to pass him.  Palmer's story, however, was that Hodge was speeding ahead when the two machines came together.  Palmer's car is a Chalmers Detroit, while Hodge was driving a six-cylinder car much heavier and more powerful.  The police say they both were traveling not less than twenty-five miles an hour.  Just before the crash came the cars had been descending a short but sharp grade, and must have acquired thereby even more speed.

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