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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


The New York Times
April 5, 1914

Model Killed When O. H. Schneider's Car Plunges Off Bridge at Woodside—He May Die.


Arraigned While Unconscious to Permit Transfer—Charles Richter, Fraternity Brother, Badly Hurt.

A midnight lark on the part of two college youths of well known families of this city came to a tragic end early yesterday morning when a thirty horse power runabout belonging to Otto H. Schneider plunged off the temporary wooden bridge over the Long Island Railroad tracks at Woodside, L. I.., on the Queensboro Boulevard, crashed through the heavy wooden fence and stone flagging at the side of the road, and hurtled down a thirty-foot embankment.  In going down the embankment the machine struck a tree and upset.  Catherine McCormick, a nineteen-year-old cloak model, who boarded at 212 West Ninety-ninth Street, was found lifeless beneath the automobile half an hour later.

Schnieder, who is 22 years old, a student at Stevens Institute of Technology and a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity, was rushed to St. John's Hospital, Long Island City, where it was later found that his back was broken.  Chas. Richter, 25 years old, son of George Richter, 46 Fort Washington Avenue, Superintendent of the Horace Waters Piano Company, was the third member of the party, and he suffered a concussion of the brain, abrasions of the left side and face, and lacerations of the scalp.  It is believed he will live.

The condition of Schneider became so grave last night that it was decided, after a consultation, to remove him to the German Hospital in this city, and arrangements were made for an operation as a last hope of saving his life.  In order to transfer the young man to Manhattan it was necessary to hold court in the hospital, where he was lying unconscious.  Joseph E. Ridder, a son of Herman Ridder and a brother-in-law of the injured man, hastened to Long Island City, and at 9:15 o'clock got in touch with Magistrate J. J. Conway.  When he was informed of the gravity of the situation Mr. Conway at once agreed to the plan.

Schneider was still unconscious when the Magistrate arrived at the hospital.  A chair was placed alongside the cot and while relatives watched, with tears in their eyes, Mr. Conway went through the formality of arraigning Schneider on a charge of homicide.

The proceedings occupied but a few minutes, and as soon as the Magistrate had made out the necessary papers and fixed bail at $5,000 Mr. Ridder put up the bonds. Schneider was then carried to a private ambulance which was waitin and was rushed to the German Hospital.

It was stated at St. John's Hospital late last night that there was little hope for Schneider's recovery.

Richter is a graduate of Columbia University, and also a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity.  He completed a course in mining engineering in February, and was to have left for South America this week to take a place in the Guggenheim mines.

Detectives and police carefully investigated a report that there was a fourth member of the party, a woman whom a passer-by said he saw dragging herself away from the wreck, but decided that there was none.  Richter, who was conscious most of yesterday, said a woman named May Lyons had been with the party earlier, but was not in the automobile at the time of the accident.  At the address he said she had given him, Broadway and West 157th Street, she was not known.

Mrs. Clare White, who keeps the house in which Miss McCormick had lived for several months, went to the Elmhurst Police Station and Lake's Morgue, in Corona, with Mrs. Elizabeth Farrell, 434 West Twenty-third Street, sister of the dead girl, to identify the body.  Mrs. White was hysterical over the catastrophe.  She said Miss McCormack was known to her as "Betty Mack," and that she had always seemed an exceptionally nice girl.

Men 'Phoned for Girl.

"The men telephoned for her shortly before midnight, and I told them she was tired and had gone to bed," she said.  "Betty heard me talking to them, and came to the telephone herself.  All I heard her say was 'All right, I'll meet you at the Hotel Astor.'  Then I asked her if she was going out, and she said she wouldn't be gone long."

Mrs. Farrell said that she had tried to get her sister to live at her home for a long while.  She said that the girl came to New York from the family's home in East Pepperill, Mass., about four years ago, and that the body would be sent there for burial.  Mrs. Farrell did not know Schneider or Richter, but said that he had heard her sister speak of them.

According to Richter's story, the party was on its way to the Holly Arms Inn at Lawrence.  The car had only one seat, which was divided and intended for two persons only.  Schneider was in the driver's seat and Richter and the girl in the other.the part of the bridge intended for vehicles is narrow and divided by a railing to separate east and west-going traffic.  At the right of the section for vehicles are the trolley tracks.  Richter's belief was that Schneider had mistaken the trolley crossties for the vehicular section that the car swerved to the right when it had mounted only a few feet from the level and had gotten beyond control.  A piece of heavy stone flagging at the side of the road was wrenched loose and a twenty-five foot strip of planking was ripped from the fence by the impact of the car.

Scattered rocks and loose earth showed its diagonal course down the incline, and a broad scar on the side of a thick tree half way down accounted for the terrific blow which ripped the right windshield from the body, smashed the right front wheel and lamp, and almost demolished the hood.  The wreckage was viewed by curious crowds of pedestrians and automobilists yesterday, who estimated that the car must have been making forty or fifty miles an hour to be hurled so far from the road.

The accident occurred at 3:15 A. M.  Caesar Oliver, night watchman at the bridge, rushed to the smashed machine and after a glance ran down the road a short distance to notify Patrolman John Rabb of the Elmhurst Police Station.  Rabb summoned the St. John's Hospital ambulance and, with the help of Oliver and several other men who had been attracted to the scene, lifted the automobile sufficiently to drag the prostrate bodies from under it.  The body of the girl was badly mangled, and Dr. William La Velle, on arriving in the hospital ambulance, ordered her body sent to Lake's Morgue.

Finds Tire in Roadway.

A short time after the accident Henry C. Rade, a driver, of Corona, found one of the tires of the machine lying in the roadway near the broken fence.  The tire had been wrenched from the right front wheel of the machine, but whether it came off before the machine swerved from the trolley tracks, thereby throwing the machine sharply to the right, or whether it was knocked off when the car struck the flagstone could not be ascertained.

For several hours the police were unable to identify the victims, and it was not until late in the morning, after Richter had recovered consciousness and given a broken account of the accident, that any of the relatives were notified.  Richter said his mind was a blank as regarded most of the details of the accident.

Schneider recovered consciousness for only a few moments about 11 o'clock yesterday morning, when Joseph E. Rider was at his bedside.  Mr. and Mrs. Ridder summoned Dr. William Meyer, a prominent New York surgeon, to the hospital.

Mrs. William F. Salzseider, Schneider's mother, of Ninety-second Street and West End Avenue, whose second husband was a wealthy Brooklyn brewer and owned most of the stock of the Consumers' Brewery, was prostrated when she heard the news and hurried to the hospital, where she remained with her son all day.  He was also visited by a number of fraternity mates, who said that they had seen Schneider and Richter at the fraternity house, 550 West 114th Street, Friday night.

Schneider has spent much time at the house during recent months gave its number as his permanent address when questioned during his brief period of consciousness in the morning.  One of his fraternity mates said that Schneider had recently inherited a large amount of money and had determined to have "a good time for a while."

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