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Topics:  James Davis


The New York Times
April 18, 1905

It Runs Away from Chauffeur and Tears Around Broadway.


After Hitting Car, Breaking Windows, and Starting a Panic—No Noe Is Badly Hurt.

After careening to and fro along Broadway endangering persons and vehicles for several blocks yesterday afternoon an unmanageable automobile containing Mrs. Alfred M. Coats, whose husband is connected with the famous thread concern, dashed over the sidewalk at Nineteenth Street and Broadway and crashed through the plate-glass doors of W. & J. Sloane's big carpet store there.

Mrs. Coats was injured by falling glass, which Joseph Strong, fifteen years old, of 236 Madison Street, was knocked down and bruised.  In its rush the automobile also managed to smash the windows of a south-bound Broadway car with which it collided.  The chauffeur, James Davis, was arrested and taken to the Tenderloin Station, whence he was later bailed out by the New York Transportation Company, by whom the machine is owned.

Mrs. Coats was on a shopping tour with Mrs. Charles Hall, who lives at the Stratford Hotel, 11 East Thirty-second Street.  The automobile behaved all right at first, and Mrs. Coats, who hired the machine, had every confidence in Davis, who had driven her before.  At Nineteenth Street and Broadway Mrs. Hall alighted and went into the carpet store, leaving Mrs. Coats and the chauffuer with the automobile.

A few minutes later Davis got out of the machine to examine the machinery, part of which he fancied needed looking after.  It was while he was tinkering with one of the wheels that the machine started.  Before Mrs. Coats could get out it circled into the middle of Broadway at terrific speed.  Mrs. Coats screamed and attracted passersby, who presently joined the chauffeur in a chase for two blocks south in the trail of the wild machine.

While Mrs. Coats gripped the sides of the machine to prevent herself from being thrown out, the auto snorted and dashed aimlessly from one side of Broadway to the other.  It barely missed crashing into a car, then shot straight for the sidewalk at Seventeenth Street with such velocity that pedestrians thought discretion the better part of valor.

Just as it was about to rush over the sidewalk, however, the machine suddenly stopped short, then began to back up Broadway at a lively rate.  The pursuers, including the chauffeur and Policeman Hughes of the Broadway Squad, were nearly mowed down by the auto's sudden strategy.  Davis jumped to one side and tried to get into his seat, but the automobile suddenly swerved and swept, with a graceful, rapid curve, against the curb in front of the carpet store whence it had started.

It ran straight to the curb and there ground its wheels into the asphalt for a few seconds.  Davis and Policeman Hughes ran up with outstretched arms to assist Mrs. Coats from the vehicle, but before they could reach her the machine was off again.  This time it dashed straight across Broadway.  A cab driver in order to avoid a collision, drove his rig right over the sidewalk on the west side of Broadway.  The automobile, as if infuriated at missing the cab, whirled around in its own length and crashed into the middle of a south-bound Broadway car.  Several of the windows fell in with a crash.  Some of the passengers were cut, but none seriously.  There was a panic, however, for about thirty seconds while the machine snarled and growled against the car, the automobile's wheels grinding around at full speed.  The motorman, fearing that his car might have a hole bored through it, started forward.

The moment the resistance was removed from the front of the automobile, it dashed straight for the carpet store.  There was a tremendous scurry among the hundreds who had gathered to witness the unusual sight.  A pathway fell open for it as it bounded up on the sidewalk.  It was at this point that the boy, Strong, was knocked down in his efforts to get away with the crowd.

The machine made a race for the doors of the carpet store.  Next moment there was a clash and the automobile, still rushing at full speed, became jammed.  Policeman Hughes, the chauffeur, Davis, and severl of the store employes ran to Mrs. Coats rescue.  She was bleeding from several nasty cuts on the hands and face.  Davis stopped the machinery of the auto.

An ambulance call was immediately sent to the New York Hospital.  It was found that Mrs. Coats was not injured seriously, but was suffering from shock.  She was removed in a cab to the Hotel Albemarle, where she is staying.  The boy who was knocked down was found to be suffering only from contusions.  He was able to go home.

Although the machine managed to do considerable damage it was found that it had not suffered much beyond the removal of much of its enamel.  It was quite fit to be run back to the garage.

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