Jennings Harris Dies in Car Crash
Spindale, Sept. 4—Shortly before noon today many people who were on Main Street heard an automobile coming toward Rutherfordton at terrific speed. It made the turn at the railroad crossing on two wheels and a second or so later it turned over three times less than one hundred feet from the tracks. Robert Neighbors, 1554 Haywood Road, West Asheville, and Jennings Harris, Cliffside, were thrown clear of the car. The former landed near the foot of an electric light pole across the concrete street and the latter struck on the paved highway. Both were picked up almost immediately by men who had rushed to the scene of the accident. They were taken to the hospital and there Jennings Harris died a few minutes after admission. Robert Neighbors was in an unconscious condition when admitted.
Scene of Fatal Accident.
The crossing of the Southern and Seaboard Air Line Railways is an S-shaped one and while level there is no banking of Route 20 on either curve at this point. The railroads in both directions are clearly visible and there was no train approaching on either track. Large signs show clearly that there is a railroad crossing and display a warning to stop. Fortunately there was no car approaching or on the crossing or the accident would have been much worse according to many eye-witnesses of the fatal wreck.
Story of an Eye Witness.
One man of sound judgment and who had seen the fatal crash, told the story of it in a convincing manner. He stated that he was used to driving cars and estimating the speed and then comparing his estimate with the figures shown by the speedometer. He said he had been standing with his back toward Main Street, across the railroad tracks, and heard what he took to be the sound of an aeroplane motor approaching from the east. He turned and looked and saw the automobile running through the principal highway of Spindale at a rate which he judged to be fully sixty miles an hour.
Car Takes First Turn.
This eye-witness then said that little, if any, attempt had been made to slow up for the dangerous double curve and it had taken the first one on two wheels. So fast was the car coming that a colored man and a boy walking from the mills on the dirt road on the north side of the tracks, seeing the machine approaching at such terrific speed they had run into a cornfield on their left to avoid being run over. Later this colored man and boy confirmed the statement that the car had been on two wheels when taking the first curve.
Turns Over Three Times.
It was less than a hundred feet from the crossing when the car turned over and threw out the two occupants. The eye-witness said the car had turned over three times and in this he was corroborated by many others who had also seen the accident. It was said that Jennings Harris was found lying directly on the concrete road, a spot of blood showing where he struck the cement, and Robert Neighbors had been thrown clear across the highway to the dirt beyond. No one could tell which one had been driving. Harris is dead and Neighbors is unconscious in the hospital.
Large Crowd Soon Gathers.
It was only a few minutes before several hundred people were at the scene of the wreck. The car, a Big Six Studebaker, was not badly damaged except the body, fenders and windshield. The top was somewhat damaged. It bore the State License No. 400,589 and the City License of Asheville No. 1426. Identification of Neighbors was made by some papers found in his pocket, and a magazine which bore on the label his name and street number in Asheville. Some people recognized Harris
On Tuesday afternoon information from the Rutherford Hospital office stated that Mr. Neighbors was conscious and it was probable he would be allowed to be taken to Asheville in a day or two. No very serious injury, it was said, had been found, and Mr. Neighbors had received general contusions and a concussion of the brain.
Read Jennings Harris’ obituary.
This item was printed in The Sun on September 9, 1926.