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Knox County Illinois
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News Stories of
Fires, Accidents, Train Wrecks
and other Calamities


Maquon Woman Instantly Killed as She Steps in Front of Pritchard's Automobile
Mrs. Freda E. McGirr, 41, was struck by an automobile driven by L.A. Pritchard, an employee of the Citizen's Artificial Ice company here, when she started from behind another machine, from which she had just alighted, at the crossing in front of her farm residence three and a half miles east of Maquon, about 5:20 o'clock on Wednesday evening.
At the time of the accident, Mr. Pritchard, accompanied by his wife, Ethel Custer Pritchard, was coming west toward Galesburg following a business trip to Peoria. Mrs. McGirr had been in Maquon attending a social affair during the day and had been brought home by Mr. and Mrs. Roy Bowman, who live in Yates City. Mr. Bowman is cashier of the Maquon State Bank. The three were riding in a small coupe which Mr. Bowman brought to a stop on the pavement on the south side of the road on the crossing connecting the farm of N. H. McGirr and his son Glen, the husband of the accident victim, who lives some distance from the pavement on the north side.
Crossed Behind Coupe -- According to testimony of witnesses at an inquest conducted by Coroner G. S. Bower, at Glen McGirr's home this morning, Mrs. McGirr got out of the coupe, talked for a moment with Mr. and Mrs. Bowman, and then started around behind the car to cross the hard road toward her residence. It was stated at the inquest that she was watching another machine coming from the west, and started to run across before it arrived at the crossing, failing to notice the approach of the sedan driven by Mr. Pritchard which was coming from the east down a fairly steep hill at that point.
Mr. Pritchard testified that he did not see the woman until she ran from behind the coupe directly in front of his machine. She was struck with great force and carried a distance of several yards on the bumper and hood of the sedan before her body fell to the pavement and the car was brought to a stop. Apparently death was instantaneous from crushing injuries.
The Jury's Verdict -- Following is the verdict brought in by the coroner's jury at the inquest this morning:

"We the jurors find that Mrs. McGirr came to her death by injuries accidently sustained on Route 8 in front of her farm entrance in Maquon township, in Knox county, Illinois, when she was walking across said highway and was struck by an automobile driven by L.A. Pritchard, of Galesburg, Illinois, at about 5:20 p.m., January 11, 1928, death ensuing at once.
"And we find that Mrs. McGirr had stepped out of a Ford coupe on the pavement, walked from behind it rapidly across the concrete, and was unavoidably struck by a nearby west bound automobile which was coming at a high rate of speed down grade from a nearby rather high hill."
Signed --- Gust Anderson, foreman; J. H. Forner, Orin Smith, T. M. Knox, Dean Ustler and Clarence Ustler.

Roy Bowman Testifies -- Roy Bowman, the first witness called by Coroner Bower, testified that he and Mrs. Bowman, driving to their home in Yates City, had picked Mrs. McGirr up in their car when they overtook her walking from Maquon just east of the Donason corners (Junction of Rt. 8 & Rt. 97). When he reached the crossing connecting the McGirr farms he stopped on the pavement, the shoulders of the road being very muddy, and let her out on the right side.
She talked for a minute and Mr. Bowman stated that he started his car as she went around behind it. He said that in the rear mirror he saw the car coming behind him from the west and as he started he also noticed the machine coming down the hill from east.
Mr. Bowman further testified that in his opinion Mrs. McGirr was watching the car coming from the west as she apparently started to run across the crossing, and did not see machine coming from the east. The witness said he rushed back when he saw the woman struck. She was lying on the pavement when he got out of his car, he stated.
He said Mr. and Mrs. Pritchard came running back, after the latter had stopped his machine on the shoulder of the road on the north side, and that they reached the body about the same time he and Mrs. Bowman, with N. H. McGirr, who had been in the yard of his place on the south side of the road, got there. Two other men also came up, the witness said, and he thought they were the occupants of the car which had been coming from the west at the time of the accident. Mrs. McGirr's body was then carried to her home.
When asked how rapidly the car which struck the woman was travelling Mr. Bowman said that he could not judge, but that it was going fast.
Mrs. Bowman on the Stand -- The testimony of Mrs. Bowman corroborated that given by her husband. She said that when Mrs. McGirr started around behind their car the witness, was afraid that her friend did not see the auto coming down the hill and said to her husband, "I wonder if Freda can make that?"
Mrs. Bowman said that the driver of the sedan had no chance to avoid striking the woman when she stepped in front of his car.
Mrs. McGirr did not scream when struck, according to this witness, but Mrs. Pritchard screamed constantly as she ran back with Mr. Pritchard to where the body was lying.
Mrs. Pritchard Prostrated -- Mrs. Pritchard was prostrated as a result of the accident and was unable to attend the inquest today. Reports this afternoon stated that she had been taken to a hospital, suffering seriously from nervous shock.
N. H. McGirr Testifies -- N. H. McGirr, the father-in-law of the victim, testified at the inquest that he was in his yard on the south side of the road a short distance from the scene of the accident when it occured. He said that she was dead when he reached her and that she must have been killed instantly from the nature of her injuries.
At times in his testimony the elder McGirr appeared bitter over the fate of his daughter-in-law, declaring that automobiles "just fell over that hill coming from the east", and said that the car that struck the woman was travelling at a high speed. He said, however, that the people in the car who hit her did everything they could and that he wanted to thank them for that. In speaking of the distance the body was carried he said that he stepped it off and that it was 56 steps, it having fallen from the car and slid on the pavement the distance of the last six steps. He stated that it was 116 steps from where the woman was hit to where the car was stopped on the shoulder of the road.
Driver's Story -- L. A. Pritchard, the driver of the sedan, said that there was no possible way he could have avoided striking Mrs. McGirr when she stepped in front of his machine. He said his lights were burning and that the brakes of the machine were in good order but that he did not see her until she was abreast of Mr. Bowman's car and he was directly upon her.
In telling of stopping on the shoulder of the road Mr. Pritchard stated that he was forced to go back onto the pavement, before pulling off, by a cement culvert in front of him. He said that he did not sound his horn because he thought both Mr. Bowman's machine and the other behind it, coming from the west, were in motion and he had no idea that anyone was attempting to cross at that point. He saw no one on foot until the woman was directly in front of his left fender, he declared.
It was also brought out in this part of the testimony that the driver of the sedan had been going at a very moderate rate of speed he could not have avoided striking Mrs. McGirr. The jury brought in the verdict at the close of Mr. Pritchard's testimony.
(Galesburg's DAILY REGISTER MAIL, Thursday Evening, January 12, 1928, submitted by Todd Walter)

James Sumner Killed by the Cars
Mr. James Sumner of Orange township, and for many years a resident of the county, lost his life last Saturday morning, at the fairgrounds crossing. He was a member of the Knox County Agricultural Board, and had been at the grounds attending to some of the work of the fair, and while crossing the track was struck by the morning passenger train and instantly killed, his neck being broken and his skull crushed.
A jury was empanelled by Coroner Aldrich. After viewing the remains, an adjournment was had until Monday morning, when the following verdict was rendered:
We, the undersigned jurors, sworn to inquire into the death of James Sumner, deceased, do say that the said James Sumner came to his death by being struck by Peoria passenger train No. 2, of the C.B.&Q. R.R. Co., on the morning of Sept. 1st, 1894, in such a manner, by us unknown, as to cause instant death.
Dr. W. R. McLaren, Foreman,
E. Sherman,
A. C. Dempsey,
William Tate,
S. M. Turner,
Harvey J. Butts.

James H. Sumner was born in Highland County, Ohio, Nov. 28th, 1814, Emigrated to Illinois in the fall of 1837, and settled in Canton, Fulton County. In the spring of 1838 he moved to Knox County, near where Gilson now is, and has ever since resided in that vicinity, until death. May 12th, 1847 he was united in marriage to Rachel Epperson, and departed this life Sept. 1st, 1894, aged 79years, 9 months, and 3 days, and leaves to mourn his sudden and cruel death, one brother, Thomas W. Sumner, two sisters, Mrs. Peter Godfrey and Mrs. Richard Maxey, two sons, Thomas and Carry Sumner, and one daughter, Mrs. Lewis McCoy, besides hosts of friends and neighbors to mourn his death, as he was a friend to the needy, a helper to those who were in want, a faithful, loving husband, a kind father, and respected by all who knew him. The funeral was held at his late residence, conducted by Rev. N. G. Clark, and attended by a large concourse of people, and his body laid to rest beside his wife [in Walter Cemetery] near Maquon


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