Pacific Electric Wreck in Santa Ana, July 12, 1927
From Jeff Lear: My great grandfather was a mechanic and an avid photographer during the early part of the 20th Century. In one of my albums (which I’ve now made public) are several pictures taken by him of an accident which occurred in Santa Ana on July 12, 1927 between a Pacific Electric train and a truck. My great grandfather was called to the scene to tow one of the vehicles involved in the accident.
Further information from Jeff: While my great grandfather was an avid photographer, he made his living working in a garage, on July 12, 1927 he was called to the scene of a train vs. truck accident where the tracks cross 17th street in Santa Ana… This is how the Los Angeles Times reported it on July 13th…
FATAL CROSSING SMASH
One Killed and Two Injured as Pacific Electric Train Crashes Into Truck
SANTA ANA, July 12 – One man was killed and two were injured today at the Pacific Electric crossing of Seventeenth Street, west of Santa Ana. Olen M. Lilley, 18, of Fullerton, was killed beneath the wreckage of a truck and a Pacific Electric train. The youth, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Claurant C. Lilley, 244 East Emerige Avenue, Fullerton, was crushed to death when his father’s gravel truck rolled onto the tracks in the path of an electric train bound for Los Angeles with two carloads of passengers at 8:35 a.m. The head car of the train was derailed and partially demolished as it ploughed its way into the ditch.
W.B. Artz of Tustin and Los Angeles, the father of C.O. Artz, Tustin merchant, was severely injured. He was a passenger in the head car and was removed from the wreckage to the Santa Ana Valley Hospital where it was reported that he would probably recover. Except for Motorman A.H. Norris of Santa Ana, who rode his car into the ditch, no other occupants of the train was injured. Norris suffered an injury to one foot.
Lilley’s body was removed to the Smith and Tuthill undertaking parlors in Santa Ana and later today was taken to the McAuley establishment at Fullerton. Coroner Charles D. Brown had not completed arrangements for the inquest.
Why the truck driver failed to stop at the crossing was a question that could not be answered today by witnesses of the wreck which was one of the worst in this district since two boys and a girl, of a party of six were killed in the same manner at the same crossing, two years ago.
Train crew and passengers stated that Lilley was driving his truck east on Seventeenth Street, bound toward Santa Ana while the train was traveling toward Los Angeles. The track crosses the boulevard at an angle so that the truck driver could have viewed the approach of the train without having to turn his gaze fully to the side. The vision at the crossing was unobstructed, it was said.
Ed. note: the car remaining on the track is likely PE no. 1039. Jeff has provided us with higher-resolution images of the car shots for closer examination. Thank you again, Jeff!
Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission