9 DIE, 14 HURT, AT AUTO RACE.
KNOX CAR, DRIVEN BY LEE
OLDFIELD, CRASHES THROUGH FENCE AT SYRACUSE FAIR.
DUE TO BURSTING TIRE.
MOTOR WAS ON FORTY-THIRD MILE
IN FIFTY-MILE RACE WHEN TUBE GAVE WAY.
DRIVER BADLY HURT.
OLDFIELD THROWN FROM HIS SEAT,
SUFFERS A BROKEN RIB AND OTHER INJURIES.
SPECTATORS IN A PANIC>
Women and Children in
Gathering of 60,000 Overcome -- More of the Injured May Die.
Special to The New York Times.
Syracuse, N. Y., Sept. 16. -- Nine persons are dead and fourteen
others are suffering from serious injuries as the result of one
of the worst accidents in the history of automobile racing in
this country. The accident occurred at the State Fair grounds
here at 5:30 o'clock this afternoon, when a Knox racer, driven
by LEE OLDFIELD, jumped from the circular track and, plunging
through a rail fence, crashed into the crowd. Six persons were
killed outright, two others died on the way to the hospital, and
another died soon after his arrival at the hospital.
ARNOLD, FRED J., Syracuse; died in ambulance.
BALLANTYNE, CHARLES E., bank clerk, Syracuse.
COIN, JOSEPH, Alexandria Bay, N. Y.
FUNK, FAYETTE, Farleyville.
HALPIN, LEO, Lakewood, a suburb of Syracuse, a helper at the
HAMIL, CLAUDE, Hammond, N. Y.
UNKNOWN MAN, 60 years of age.
UNKNOWN BOY, about 10 years of age, who had the top of his head
taken off; supposed to be a son of FRED J. ARNOLD.
UNKNOWN MAN, in his coat pocket was found a postal card
addressed to Rose Myers, Arabia, N. Y.
BRADLEY, H. R., Franklin, N. Y.; condition serious.
DOOLEY, CHARLES, Syracuse; hip injured and body bruised.
McLAUGHLIN, WILLIAM, Syracuse; head cut.
MINER, WILLIAM, Syracuse; left leg broken.
OLDFIELD, LEE, driver of the car; fractured rib and internal
"PETE THE GREEK," so known locally; knees cut.
SHARKEY, WILLIAM, Syracuse, driver for American Express Company;
internal injuries; condition serious.
VERRETTE, REGINALD, Syracuse, 7 years old; right arm broken in
YONKER, MISS ANNA, Syracuse; leg broken.
Five other persons were reported by the Syracuse police as
injured, but their names are not yet available.
Race Excites Crowd.
The accident occurred during the fifty-mile race. The cars were
speeding around the track at a high rate and the great crowd was
worked up to an extreme pitch of excitement. OLDFIELD in his
Knox auto was circling the track at a speed so terrific that his
machine looked like a shadow as he sped by the cheering crowds.
A fraction of a second before the accident OLDFIELD seemed to
have his car under perfect control. THe spectators behind the
fence were jammed together eight and ten deep. Suddenly it was
seen that OLDFIELD'S car was out of his control, and a second
later the sputtering, smoking thing shot like a rocket into the
fence. The fence gave way like so much paper, and the machine
hurled itself into the shrieking crowd.
So sudden was the tragedy enacted that those in the path of the
on-rushing machine hardly had time to move an inch before it was
The six who were killed outright were hurled in all directions,
their bodies terribly mangled. The three others who died, two on
the way to the hospital, and a third soon after arriving there,
were badly mangled.
The screams of the injured and the cries of the terrified people
who escaped were heartrending. Doctors from all parts of the
great crowd, which was estimated at 60,000, the largest that
ever paid its way into a Syracuse fair, hurried to the scene to
give aid to the injured. There was plenty of work for all to do.
The injured were taken in hand and as fast as ambulances arrived
were hurried to the Emergency Hospital on the fair grounds.
Women In Hysterics.
The dead were also taken there. Relatives and friends of the
victims, dead and living, rushed to the hospital with others who
sought to learn whether or not this or that relative or friend
was among the dead or injured. Everywhere women were in
hysterics and children were screaming out in terror, so great
was the panic that followed the accident.
OLDFIELD, the driver of the machine, is among those injured. He
is in the hospital with a fractured rib and severe internal
injuries, but has a chance to recover.
The accident happened during the forty-third mile of the
fifty-mile race, which was the feature of the day. There were
nine contestants, and besides OLDFIELD thre were two other
drivers, RALPH DE PALMA anad BOB BURMAN, two of the most noted
racing automobilists in this country. The track was not in the
best of condition, a fact that had been noted by the drivers.
President TAFT, who was a guest at the fair, had left only a few
minutes before the accident occurred. His car had been driven
over part of the track on its way to the main entrance, and for
this reason the officials had had the entire track sprinkled
with water in order to clear the dust for the President's
The previous event, the race for the Brazard Cup, had been held
up for some time, because both DE PALMA and BURMAN refused to
race on the track on account of its condition. The matter had
been argued for some time with the officials, and this had held
up the programme.
This had delayed the start of the fifty-mile event, and as it
had been widely advertised as the feature of the day, the crowd
increased by several thousand during the delay.
Early in the race DE PALMA developed tire troubles. OLDFIELD, at
the end of the twenty-fifth mile, was only a lap behind DE
PALMA, who had been delayed because of his tires. The two
automobiles had been maintaining pretty nearly a distance of a
lap apart, and the excitement among the spectators who lined the
track was intense as the OLDFIELD car, when the twenty-fifth
mile post was passed, began to creep up on the fast-going DE
OLDFIELD had troubles of his own. His right front tire had
thrown a part of the shoe. This could be seen revolving and
beating the track as he circled the course. Efforts were made to
get him to stop and replace the bad tire, but his manager was
seen to urge him onward and to motion to him to increase his
OLDFIELD continued to gain slightly despite the condition of the
tire. The race was neck and neck, with DE PALMA, in frequent
bursts of speed, keeping ever ahead of OLDFIELD. The broken shoe
could be plainly seen by the spectators. OLDFIELD up to the
fortieth mile had been taking the first quarter turn carefully,
shutting down the power in front of the grand stand.
Apparently intent upon gaining on DE PALMA, he evidently decided
to make speed at the expense of caution, for after the fortieth
mile he stopped shutting off speed when taking the first
The officials and others by the track noticed that OLDFIELD was
no longer slowing down at the quarter, and there was much
speculation as to his reason. The officials figured that the
driver believed DE PALMA'S tire troubles would re-occur and that
OLDFIELD was waiting to take advantage of DE PALMA'S anticipated
stop and stop himself at the same time and fix his own tire.
Car Leaps In The Air.
At 5:30, as DE PALMA and OLDFIELD rounded the turn into the
forty-third mile, OLDFIELD had crept up upon his opponent until
his car was nosing the rear of DE PALMA'S machine. DE PALMA
swept around the first quarter of this mile. Scarcely a yard
behind came OLDFIELD, and as the latter ran well into the
quarter there was a loud report. The spectators saw OLDFIELD'S
machine leap into the air for a few feet, then settle back on
its four wheels, continue its made pace, and then crash squarely
into the fence, which separated a dense crowd from the crouse.
Men, women, and children struggled to get out of its track, and
some were successful, the car speeding past them at a distance
of less than a few inches. Those unhurt were piled one on top of
the other, a heap of scrambling, screaming humanity, flanking
the wrecked car.
The car ran twenty feet before it stopped. OLDFIELD was thrown
out and he was unconscious when help reached him. The car, when
its progress was checked, turned on its side. One man's body was
hurled into the air and landed in the crowd some feet from the
place where it struck. A boy was decapitated.
But little of all this was seen by those in the grand stand, and
it was at first thought by the officials of the race that no one
had been injured, and a statement to that effect was made. On
the field near the scene of the accident was the most intense
excitement, and after the car stopped people flocked there.
Then began the work of taking care of the wounded and carrying
away the dead. Ambulances were sent to all the hospitals in
Syracuse and trucks at the fair grounds were called in to aid in
transferring the injured to the Emergency Hospital. The Woman's
Building was turned into a hospital, and there many were
attended to who received minor injuries in the rush to escape
death. Doctors and clergy came from the city to minnister to the
dying and injured.
From the fair grounds the injured were taken to St. Joseph, the
Good Shepherd and the Women's and Children's Hospitals.
DE PALMA Keeps On Racing.
Unaware that the accident had been serious DE PALMA, who had
been startled by the explosion as OLDFIELD'S car left the track,
kept on racing. Through the officals were aware that spectators
had been killed they refused to call off the event, and DE PALMA
finished the fiftieth mile. Police arrangements were inadequate,
and after the accident the crowd broke bounds and many crossed
the track while DE PALMA was still speeding on. That no one was
killed in doing so was a miracle. OLDFIELD said:
"I don't know how it happened. I heard my tire blow up, then I
went through the fence. After that everything was a blank. When
I came to I was being lifted from the top of another man on whom
I had landed."
It has been many a day since Syracuse has put in two such hours
of anxiety as elapsed between 5:30 and 7:30 o'clock tonight. Of
the 65,000 people on the grounds to see the races, fully 50,000
were from this city. The State fair grounds are five miles from
Syracuse, and owing to the immense crowd on the grounds railroad
traffic was greatly congested, and it was not until 8 o'clock
that the last of the race crowd was transported to Syracuse.
News of the accident came through newspaper extras and people
who had relatives at the races became panic stricken. Newspaper
offices were besieged with anxious inquiries, and the few
telephone wires to the fair grounds were swamped.
It is the general impression that today's disaster sound the
knell of motor car racing on the State Fair tracks.
That DE PALMA did not figure in the smash-up is regarded as
remarkable. Almost immediately after crossing the finishing
line, one of his rear tires exploded, but no damage was done.
The bodies of those instantly killed were removed to an adjacent
barn until a dead wagon removed them to city morgues. The car
which was the cause of the terrible fatality was registered as
driven by FRED BELCHER, and his name appeared in this connection
on the programme. For some reason, BELCHER did not start, and
OLDFIELD took his place.
Aid was volunteered by scores of physicians, and there were many
offers from trained nurses who were in the vast throng. One
woman torn off all of her garments that bandages might be
provided for the wounded. Her sister was injured, but she stuck
heroically to her task and continued to provide bandages until
she had no more material from which to improvise them.
OLDFIELD, the driver, is being guarded by an officer, and as
soon as he recovers will be arrested.
FAYETTE FUNK, one of the dead, was the manager of a diving
girls' show on the Midway.
The New York Times New York
Lee Oldfield Withdraws from Race.
The New York Times October 6, 1911, Friday
Oct. 5. -- Owing to the criticism directed
at him because of the fatal accident at
Syracuse, Lee Oldfield announced to-night
that he had decided not to participate in
the 200-mile Fairmount Park motor race on
Saturday. Oldfield was engaged to pilot a
90-horsepower Fiat owned by Frank S. Hodson
of this city. His entry was accepted by the
Quaker City Motor Club, and in the drawing
for positions drew No. 1. When he appeared
for the first practice spin at the course
today, he heard a number of criticisms and
became so unnerved that he decided to
withdraw. Hodson also announced that he
would withdraw his entry. This withdrawal
will leave 18 cars in the race.