History

Tragic Happenings

Chauffeur Killed by Trains

11801 Lake Shore Boulevard
East 105 RR Crossing

On Christmas morning, 1907, James McCormick, a chauffeur for the Ireland family, drove his wife and a party of Ireland's servants to St. Clair Avenue and East 105th Street. From there, they could catch a streetcar to early Christmas mass at St. John’s Cathedral in Cleveland. McCormick, driving a big forty-horse-power touring car, was in a hurry to return to the Ireland home for breakfast.

The auto was traveling fast when it approached the East 105th Street railroad crossing. An eastbound locomotive was returning to the Collinwood roundhouse from the Cleveland Union Terminal. The automobile's roar may have drowned out the locomotive's noise. The automobile and locomotive collided with a loud crash.

Bratenahl policeman James Ryan witnessed the crash. The touring car was lifted bodily and hurled through the air falling ninety feet to the east. The westbound Buffalo Express was thundering down the track heading to where the wreckage fell. The chauffeur's body lay in the debris. Patrolman Ryan ran across the railroad tracks network, praying that he might reach the chauffeur before the train. He was beaten in the race.

With a roar, the Buffalo Express swept down upon the splintered and twisted auto. McCormick's body was tossed aside, and the automobile's parts were spread along the tracks for over fifty feet. Patrolman Ryan held a faint hope that McCormick was still alive, but he knew that McCormick was dead when he reached the broken body.

Marshall Newkirk of Bratenahl declared that the gates were up, based on the information from Patrolman Ryan. Newkirk charged that McCormick was killed through the negligence of the tower man. He stated that he had written a letter to the railroad a week before complaining that the gates were lowered at night when no trains were approaching. Those attempting to cross had to climb up into the tower and awake the watchman before they could pass. At other times, the tower men kept the gates up, paying little attention to approaching trains.