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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Accidental Death of 12 Year Old

Copied from the Lawrence County News, published in Lawrenceville, Illinois on Wednesday, February 20th, 1924 page 1


Carl May, the 12-year-old son of Circuit Clerk and Mrs. George S May died in a hospital at Robinson as a result of loss of blood and exposure following an accident on the Big Four RR near Birds early Monday morning February 18, 1924. The boy’s left leg was cut off by the wheels of a freight train.


The story of the accident is a sad one, the culmination of a boyish prank never before indulged by the youth who lost his life as a result. In company with eight other boys of about the same age or a trifle older, Carl caught a freight train in the Big Four yards Lawrenceville Sunday afternoon expecting to ride to the sidetrack north of Birds and catch the next freight home thinking he could make the trip without the knowledge of his mother, and she would have no cause for worry over his absence.


The trip to the passing track was made all right, but there was no train coming back to Lawrenceville and the boys were compelled to remain all night. Their absence caused much uneasiness among the families concerned but no trace of them could be found until about 8:30 Monday morning when Mr. May was notified that Carl had lost his left leg in a railroad accident and had been taken to the hospital at Robinson. Accompanied by his wife, Mr. May immediately left for Robinson. His car got stuck four times, but he made the trip and arrived before his son passed away.  The boy was conscious and recognized his parents, requesting that his mother take him home and get him something to eat as he was hungry. The surgeon in charge had injected a salt solution into the veins and apparently there was some improvement in his condition and Mr. May was told an operation would be performed just as soon as the boy’s condition would permit.


The change for the better was only temporary, however, and he continued to grow weaker until 1:30 pm when he passed away.  According to the doctor death was due to loss of blood and exposure.


 Mr. May says Carl told him he was sitting on a coal car and the train came to a sudden stop on the siding, throwing him beneath the wheels.  When he fell the others ran away and it was some time before he was discovered.  Dr Montgomery was called and gave him a hypodermic, then sent him to Robinson in the morning passenger train.  His condition was hopeless when received at the hospital although the surgeon stated it would have been a simple case of amputation had he been given prompt attention.  Loss of blood and exposure killed him.


Mr. and Mrs. May are almost heartbroken over the tragedy. This was the boy’s first experience in riding trains, and he had never caused his parents trouble in any manner.


The boys who were with him on the ill-fated trip were Earl Houchins 16; Cloyd Scaggs, 15; Delbert Scaggs 12; Herman Shoulders 13; Thurman Boone 14; Thurman Aldrich 14; David Kittle 12; and Enoch Kittle 14.


After the accident the boys started to walk home. Arriving at Pinkstaff they purchased some crackers at the store of Emmons & Lindsay and when questioned by R H Emmons told the story of their escapade.  About two miles north of Lawrenceville they were met by Sheriff Simms and Deputy Griffin who placed them in jail to await the arrival of Dan O’Brien, Big Four detective.  Of course, the boys were penitent and said it would never happen again.


Funeral services for Carl May were held at the Presbyterian church and interment was made in the Lawrenceville cemetery. His age was 12 years 10 months and 2 days.  A peculiar coincidence is that he died on his father’s 51st birthday. (A stone marked his grave in 1976 when volunteers recorded all the graves in the cemetery but now, in 2024, it can not be located.)

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