Wreck On Brookline Boulevard - 1953

Wreck On Brookline Boulevard - 1953

Seven Teenagers Hurt In Crash In Brookline

1934 Auto Smashed Broadside Into Pole

Seven teenagers were injured, three critically, when their auto smashed broadside into a utility pole in Brookline shortly after midnight.

To help the victims, twelve police cars and ambulances were sent to the scene on Brookline Boulevard.

Five bystanders in the large crowd that gathered were arrested for interference.

The injured are:

Carl Weber, 16, of 1320 Milan Avenue, Brookline, the driver, in South Side Hospital with a broken left arm and leg.

Peter Rauch, 15, of 1636 Reamer Street, Brookline, in the same hospital with a compound skull fracture.

Richard Cea, 16, of 1530 Reamer Street, in Mercy Hospital with a fractured skull.

Peggy Lou Lester, 16, of the Chappel Avenue Trailer Camp, in Mercy Hospital with a broken hip, shock, and possible internal injuries.

Fred Ober, 17, of 310 Chalfont Street, Mount Oliver, in South Side Hospital with head injuries.

Martha Unitas, 15, of 2413 Bazore Street, Brookline, in South Side Hospital with internal injuries, scalp cuts and hip injury.

Frederick Zuck, 16, of 1013 Mt. Oliver Street, in Allegheny General Hospital with head injury and shock.

Most seriously hurt are Rauch, Cea and the Lester girl, police said.

Youth Given Blood

Attendants at South Side Hospital said young Rauch was given oxygen and blood plasma throughout the night. His father, Leonard, is a South Hills contractor.

Nicholas Cea, father of the Cea boy, is head waiter at Kaufmann's Department Store restaurant.

The injured were strewn around the street by the terrific force of the crash in front of 1160 Brookline Boulevard.

The crowd that quickly gathered, including patrons of a corner saloon, tried to help the unconscious victims.

Crowd Restrained

Police had to restrain them, not allowing the injured to be moved until the ambulances arrived.

Five police ambulances took them to the hospitals.

In keeping back the throng, police arrested the five bystanders for disorderly conduct.

Homicide Detectives Edward Koch and Francis Flannery said that only the Unitas girl regained consciousness soon after reaching the hospital.

Were in 1934 Packard

But she was too dazed to remember even who was driving the 1934 model Packard.

Police learned, however, that the five boys had gone in a movie early in the evening and later stopped at the weekly Friday night dance for teenagers in Cedar of Lebanon dance hall.

They met the girls there and were taking them home when the crash occurred.

The detectives found two witnesses to the crash. Thomas Leonard, 15, of 1572 Greencrest Drive, and Clark Presti, 15, of Bellaire Place.

Boulevard Was Wet

They said the car was traveling about forty to forty-five miles an hour when it went into a skid on the rain-click boulevard and crashed into the pole.

The five men arrested were fined $5 each today by Magistrate William Redmond for disorderly conduct.

They are John H. Thomas, 45, of 2129 Pioneer Avenue; Charles Goldbach, 33, of 1837 Dunster Street; Norman C. Meyer, 55, of 1633 Creedmoor Avenue; George Stranas, 39, of 718 Dunster Street and John B. Irelan, 50, of 1206 Wareman Avenue.

Wreck On Brookline Boulevard - 1953
Interfering With Police at last night's crash cost these men $5 each today at a hearing in police court.
Left to right: John Thomas, Charles Goldbach, Norman Meyer, George Stranas and John Irelan.

Officers Threatened

Patrolmen Clifford Baxter and James J. Leone said they first arrested Thomas. As they were taking him to a call box, a voice from the crowd shouted.

"We ought to kick the hell out of those cops."

This stirred up the throng, resulting in the arrest of the four others, Thomas told the magistrate:

I was excitied. I'd had an accident at that pole myself once and we'd been trying to get it removed. I suppose I did get out of bounds last night."

Each paid the fines.

* Copied from the Pittsburgh Press - May 23, 1953 *

Brookline Boulevard - 1953
The "Bad Spot" - This intersection of Brookline Boulevard, Whited Street and Merrick Avenue
is termed the danger spot in the Brookline tussle with City Council over traffic conditions
in the area. The white-striped utility poles form the chief basis for contention.

Brookline Parents Beg City To End Traffic "Slaughter"

Delegation Attends Council Meeting, Demanding Elimination of "Death Corner"

Brookline's teenager auto accident has crashed into City Council chambers.

Community residents, including the father of a severely injured child, demanded safety measures from Council at a hearing yesterday..

One member of the delegation warned that death always lurks at the corner, where seven teenagers were injured early Saturday morning.

Blame Utility Poles

A nearby tavern owner said there had been so many injured at the spot that his place has become an "evacuation center."

Most of the delegation blamed a cluster of utility poles into which motorists crash when they are compelled to make a sharp left turn in crossing the trolley tracks.

The danger spot is located at the intersection with Merrick Avenue, where the outbound lane of the boulevard abruptly ends by turning across the track. Removal of the utility poles was demanded by the delegation

Seven Hurt In Crash

It included Leonard A. Rauch, of 1636 Reamer Street.

Mr Rauch had tragic grounds for calling it a "bad spot." His 15-year old son, Peter, suffered compound fractures of the skull when an auto hit one of the poles Saturday.

Six other teenagers were hurt in this crash, which has aroused the community into demanding that the City take steps to halt the slaughter.

In an emotional plea before the Council chambers, Mr. Rauch described the effects of the last accident. He said:

"You are having accidents all over, but this is a very bad spot. This accident will cost thousands of dollars in operations and restoring the health of these children."

Mr. Rauch described the hospital scenes after the accident, with children lying in emergency rooms, adding:

"My boy, with the grace of God, will come out of this, but he is in a very critical condition."

He described the location of the utility poles, used by the Pittsburgh Railways Company, which stand at the end of the outbound lane where it turns across the trolley track. Declared Mr. Rauch:

"Every accident is caused by a car hitting a pole, not hitting other cars. The real reason (for the accidents) is definitely the poles."

He suggested that Council insist on the removal of the poles by the trolley firm.

Thomas J. Gallagher, chairman of Council's Hearing Committee, and a resident of Brookline, promptly said that Public Works Director James S. Devlin would ask the company to removed the poles.

After listening to further complaints, Mr. Gallagher appointed a special council committee to work out the safety plan with the trolley firm.

Some of these complaints were strong enough to shake Council, including a reference to the number of motorists injured at the spot.

Milton Denmark, who runs a tavern at 1162 Brookline Boulevard, said:

"I own a corner tavern (where the accidents occur). It has become a point of evacuation, as all the wounded people are brought in."

"The slightest bit of rain will make the roadway slippery. If you brake your car, you start drifting. If you start sliding down the hill, even at twenty-five miles an hour, you will wrap your car around a pole."

Brookline Boulevard - 1953
At a protest meeting over the near-fatal car accident last Friday night involving seven teenagers. These Brookline
residents gathered to list demands that will be placed before City Council today by Elmer Steuernagel,
president of the Community Council. The meeting was held at Frank F. DeBor Funeral Home.

The recent accident record was reported to Council by Elmer Steuernagel, of 380 Lamarido Street, president of the Brookline Community Civic Council.

He claimed there had been eight serious accidents in the last three years, including "one of our doctors who skidded and hit a pole, and dislocated a shoulder.

Mr. Steuernagel said parking on the boulevard, just before the turn, cramped motorists into a narrow lane, making it especially dangerous and slippery.

He added that police had put on a four-day campaign by tagging parking violators, but this "has died away."

Councilman Patrick T. Fagan, also a Brookline resident, jumped into the discussion by asking how fast the unidentified doctor was traveling.

Mr. Fagan supplied his own answer by asserting that the doctor's car "was wrapped around the pole" and that would mean the car had been traveling "fifty to sixty miles an hour.

Mrs. Dorothy Domostoy, of 1115 Brookline Boulevard, retorted that the doctor "had not been speeding, although his car was completely banged in.

"Somebody is going to get killed there," Council was warned by John H. Thomas, of 2129 Pioneer Avenue, who said he was representing "the general public."

Mr. Thomas was one of the five men arrested at the time of the teenager accident, and fined $5 each for disorderly conduct.

Got "Out Of Bounds"

He admitted at the time that he had tried to get the pole removed, and had got "out of bounds" when the police arrived.

Mr. Thomas suggested that a traffic light, erected a block away, would "slow down motorists."

Mr. Rauch also suggested that the boulevard be continued on down the hill, and around to Route 51, as previously requested by Brookline delegations.

But this was disapproved by Council President Gallagher, who said the project would cost "about one-half million dollars," adding:

"Council would be happy to do it, but the money is not there."

He appointed Bennett Rodgers, chairman of the Committee on Public Works; William H. Davis, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, and Emanuel Schifano, chairman of the Committee on Public Service and Surveys, to confer with the trolley company. Possibility of installing a red blinker will be studied by the Bureau of Traffic Planning.

Mr. Rodgers said that if there was no cooperation from the trolley firm, Council will consult with the Law Department to see what can be done.

* Copied from the Pittsburgh Press - May 26/27, 1953 *

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