Solvay Woman Topples Backwards From Car Into Coat Room, Thence Down Shaft.


Question Whether Elevator Door Was Closed – Victim’s Husband Recent Heir to Fortune of $40,000

Mr. Mary Dunn Mathews, 43, wife of Daniel C. Mathews of No. 130 Freeman avenue, Solvay, was instantly killed at 3:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon by falling off the elevator at the second floor of the Wieting Block, while the car was ascending, and into the pit of the building, at South Salina and West Water streets.

Her death was tragic and and the accident most peculiar.

In the car with Mrs. Mathews at the time were John J. Driscoll of No. 104 Tennyson avenue, janitor of the block, and another man and a boy.

With the three passengers aboard, Mr. Driscoll said he closed the door entering the elevator shaft, on the Water street side, and the car door on that side.  He then stepped across the car to start it upwards.  He stated positively that the door was closed tightly but as the car reached the second floor Mrs. Mathews fell through the door and into a coat room on the north side of the shaft.

Screamed as She Fell.

There is another door in the coat room opening from the elevator shaft, and it swung open under the woman’s weight.  Mrs. Mathews screamed as she fell, as did the man and boy in the car.  As the car went up the woman rolled out of the coat room doorway and dropped to the bottom of the elevator shaft, two floors below.  Mr. Driscoll stopped the car, but it was too late.

George W. Garrett of No. 1138 South Salina street, for eighteen years agent of the block, rushed out of his office and into the basement.  He was the first to reach Mrs. Mathews and to all appearances she was dead when he got to her.

Calling the engineer he lifted her out of the pit, with the engineer’s assistance, and then telephoned to the Hospital of the Good Shepherd for an ambulance.  The ambulance surgeon pronounced Mrs. Mathews dead and the body remained in the basement of the building until Coroner George R. Kinne arrived and gave permission for its removal to Meagher & Cody’s undertaking rooms.

Coroner Kinne at once started an investigation, questioning both Mr. Driscoll and Mr. Garrett.

Running Car Two Days.

Mr. Driscoll, who has been janitor of the Wieting Block for a number of years, had been running the car two days, in the absence of the regular conductor, who is ill.  “Mr. Driscoll was one of the most careful men who ever stepped into that car,” said Mr. Garrett after the accident.  “He is positive that he closed the door.  It is a folding door and the only solution we can offer is that the woman must have become faint and in falling against it forced it to slide open.

“Mr. Driscoll stopped the car withing two feet, but Mrs. Mathews went through the door of the cloak room and fell back under the floor of the elevator.  The only opening in the coat room is into the elevator shaft.  This room is used by the men to hang their coats in and it is probable that the door opening into this room was not latched.  It was closed.”

After his investigation Coroner Kinne said,

“The theory  is that Mrs. Mathews was startled as the car was started up and leaned against the door, grasping hold of the door to regain her balance.  In doing so she probably opened the door and fell out.  The clothes room door might have been closed, but I do not believe it was fastened.  This door swings open.  I believe internal injuries caused her death, but have ordered a post-mortem that we may know definitely.

Mr. Mathews was at work in the coal and wood yards of his cousin, James M. Mathews, at Solvay, when informed that his wife had been killed.  He hurried to the undertaker’s rooms.  The scene as he viewed his wife’s body was heartrending.  “Now that we had everything to live for she has been taken away from me,” he cried.

Recently Inherited $40,000.

Mr. Mathews inherited something over $40,000 from the estate of John Davin of Liverpool, a relative, about one year ago.  Last fall he and Mrs. Mathews made a two months’ trip to Kansas City, Kan., to visit Mr. Mathews’ brother, Hugh Mathews.  Among the dead woman’s effects were found two $50 bills, which the husband said he had given her when they were in Chicago on their way home in November.  For more than an hour efforts to console Mr. Mathews failed, until finally Rev. James F. O’Shea, his pastor arrived from Solvay.  Miss Stella Dunn, a sister of Mrs. Mathews, collapsed when told of Mrs. Mathews’ death.

Besides her husband Mrs. Mathews is survived by three sisters, Mrs. Maude Dunn Hunter, wife of William Hunter of Caroline avenue, Solvay, Frances and Stella Dunn, who resided with her, and a brother living at Cleveland.  The husband is  a cousin of former Coroner Daniel F. Mathews.  Detective Harvey Larum, detailed from Police Headquarters immediately after the woman met death, investigated, but did not appear fully convinced that the elevator door had been closed


No Sign of Illness Just Before Mrs. Mathews Fell, Verdict of Autopsy

Coroner’s physician, Archer D. Babcock, and Dr. Herman L. Weiskotten, pathologist, performed an autopsy last night at Meagher & Gocdy’s undertaking rooms to ascertain the exact nature of the injury which  had caused Mrs. Mathews’ death.  The autopsy was under direction of Coroner Kinne.

It disclosed a fracture at the base of the skull.  This, Dr. Kinne said, produced a shock which had resulted in almost instant death.  The post mortem showed nothing to indicate that Mrs. Mathews had been taken ill just before she went through the elevator doors.

Source : Syracuse Post Standard, March 18, 1910.