On this date: Tractor trailer crashes into Maxwell House Coffee Shop


January 18, 1961

Genesee County Express
January 19, 1961

Signs at the top of Wayland Hill warning truck drivers to shift to lower” gear before descending apparently are not the solution to the run-away truck problem.

For the second time in less than six months death and destruction rode a truck down Wayland Hill into Dansville shortly before noon.  Whereas fate had stayed death’s hand on the previous trip, this time it was allowed at least one victim. Killed in the spectacular crash which demolished two Main St buildings was Kenneth R. Sutphin, 23, of Rising Sun, Md. driver of the tractor trailer carrying a 20-ton load of galvanized steel sheets.

Maxwell House Coffee Shop Jan 18 1961

Eye Witness Accounts of Crash

BY LEE SCHUSTER (Clement Leo Schuster)

“I was only a few inches from that truck. Thank the Lord I’m still here. I had my hand on the front door of the restaurant and was starting out when I saw the truck coming.

I guess I must have jumped back into that little coat room by the door as the truck came smashing through.  “I don’t remember anything else until it was all over. The cab and trailer shot right by me—only inches away—taking the doorway with it. Flying glass, I guess, gave me this small cut on the cheek and my glasses have a small chip. It was miraculous that it missed me. How do you explain a thing like this “First thing I thought of was Doris Conway who had gone out just ahead of me. I understand she saw the truck coming, grabbed her children and ran toward the bank I guess she is pretty upset—so am I, it came so close.”

BY VERNON LENT

“I was having coffee in the restaurant and all of a sudden there was an explosion — at least it sounded like one. I thought an airplane had crashed into the building. I didn’t see the cab at all, when I looked up, just the trailer. “I looked down and Irving Anderson of Swains was on the floor. I picked him up and then went over to see if anyone was under the trailer. Gas was running out but there was no one there. I later learned Anderson had a broken ankle. He said it probably was broken when the explosion—that’s the only way to describe it—knocked him off his stool.

“There was complete confusion in the restaurant. I heard Doris Conway screaming in the back of the building. She had gone out the front door with her children only moments before the crash and must have walked around back. I called her husband, Bob, and he came right down. She was really shook up — that truck must have just missed her and the kids. Everything was confusion. It was terrible.”

BY TED SMITH

“That’s the third one I’ve witnessed and I don’t want to see any more. Another 15 seconds and I’d have been clobbered myself. I had just delivered the mail in the Grant store and was on my way to the Dansville Auto Parts store when I saw this truck come shooting down the street dragging this car (Reilly’s) right alongside it. It just seemed that the car was dragging it toward the curb. There was an awful explosion as it struck the coffee shop. I didn’t think that poor driver could ever get out of that alive. It was awful. Why doesn’t the state do something?”

BY GEORGE KARNS

“I was lucky. My car was parked just a couple doors down the street from the restaurant and I had just pulled away from the parking meter when people started running up Main St. I heard a crash, I ran back and the truck had smashed through the two stores. I got out just in time.”

Hospital Lists Richard Reilly As ‘Critical’

Reilly trapped in car at Maxwell House Coffee Shop Jan 18 1961Most seriously injured of the four living victims is Richard Reilly, 46, of 8 Hessier Ct. whose condition is listed as “critical” by Dansville Memorial Hospital authorities. Reilly was driver of one of the four vehicles smashed in the crash. Reilly’s injuries are listed as fractured ribs and collarbone and a possible punctured lung. His car was demolished. Witnesses said the truck apparently out of control, sped into the village with horn  blaring, passing the Main and Clara Barton Sts. intersection without mishap.

Before reaching the Ossian St. intersection, however, the tractor trailer clipped a truck driven by Anthony Marks of McCurdy Rd. The driver then swerved left in attempt to avoid the Reilly car, which was making a left turn into Ossian St. After that collision the truck smashed into a parked car owned by Dr. Angelo M. Carlucci of Sonyea.

The truck, dragging the Reilly vehicle along with it, careened about 300 feet down Main, jumped the curb, plowed into the front of the Maxwell House Coffee Shop and through a wall into the Dansville Auto Parts store where a heavy upright beam halted its structive progress.

Before jumping the curb near the restaurant, the truck rammed and demolished another parked car owned by Walter Sorg of 7 Clay St. Reilly’s vehicle caught on the corner of the restaurant as the truck crashed into the Maxwell House Coffee Shop followed by the Dansville Auto Parts.

 Dansville Breeze
Jan. 24, 1961

We Need Action It is high time the collective voice of a frightened and terrorized Dansville be heard in Albany or in some city where lies the responsibility for eliminating the curse of runaway trucks on Wayland Hill. The death toll from runaway trucks now stands at five. Why the number is not 55 only God knows.

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