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Leonard Burnett Hurled by a Larger Boy in Front of the Approaching Car
Identity of Lad Who Pushed Young Burnett on the Track is Unknown

            Little seven year-old Leonard Burnett was ground to death beneath the wheels of a Spring Street car yesterday as the result of another’s malice or thoughtlessness.

            The little fellow was standing at the Capitol Avenue crossing awaiting the passage of the car when an older schoolmate sent him sprawling between the tracks not ten feet in front of the approaching car by a push on the shoulder.  Without waiting to see the result of his almost criminal act, the older lad scampered away apparently unconcerned.

            Only those attendant at the scene of the accident when the horrified mother and father came can appreciate the paternal love and anguish felt for the child.  The mother, in her hysterical grief, clasped to her breast the mangled remains of her only son, while the father stood helplessly by, stupefied with sorrow.


            Young Burnett was of a party of children returning from Edwards School, which was dismissed at four o’clock.  The details of the affair are best given in the story of Motorman Thomas Drake, a veteran in the service, and whose car yesterday caused the first loss of life or limb while under his control.  Between sighs and other evidences of undisguised grief at his home on East Adams Street last night, he said.

            “I saw the little shaver standing near the curbing waiting for the car to pass, when I was some distance away.  His little companion stood upon the sidewalk.  Just when the car was within ten feet of the child, a lad about fourteen years of age shoved him from behind.  The little fellow fell face downward on the tracks.  It was too late to save him, but I managed to stop the car before the rear wheels crossed the body.  It was over in an instant, but even in that time the boy who had caused the mischief was gone.  There were two passengers on the car, but neither of them saw the affair.  The parents came and their grief was pitiful to behold.  The wheels passed over the boy’s chest, causing instant death.”


            Russell Jones, son of M. A. Jones, of 526 West Monroe Street, who has been an inseparable companion of young Burnett, saw the affair, but did not know the boy who shoved Burnett.  The little Jones boy, who is also 7 years old, said last night: “He hit me on the head with a book, and then threw Leonard down.”

            Archie Cochrane, employed in the supply department of the State House, witnessed the accident from the building.  He saw a crowd of boys playing near the street, but did not see who caused the accident.

            Coroner Baer, officials of the railway company, and friends of the family of the deceased instituted a futile search for the unknown boy last night.  The inquest will be held today, at which it is believed some light may be thrown on his identity.


            Leonard Burnett was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Will Burnett, of 511 West Capitol Avenue, and is survived by his parents and four sisters, Misses Wilma, Myrtle, Pearl and Grace Burnett, all at home.  Mr. Burnett is employed by the Chicago & Alton road at the pumping station at Virden, but makes his home in Springfield.  The family removed here from Waverly last June.  Since the family’s residence in Springfield, Leonard had been attending the Edwards school.  He was in the second grade and was unusually bright and was a favorite among his playmates.

            The funeral will be held this afternoon at 3 o’clock, from the family residence.  The Rev. J. E. Lynn, pastor of the West Side Christian Church, will officiate.  The remains will be taken to Waverly Sunday morning at 7 o’clock, via the C. P. & St. L. road, where the interment will be made.
Illinois State Register – January 11, 1902

Engineer Uffie Wieties Sustains Severe Injuries
Badly Scalded and Has Desperate Fight for His Life
Accident at the Street Railway Power House Cripples Car Service Indefinitely

            The steam chest on the principal engine in the power house of the Consolidated Street Railway company burst yesterday afternoon with disastrous effect.  Uffie Wieties, engineer in charge at the time, was seriously injured by escaping steam.  The plant was badly damaged and traffic on every car line in the city was suspended for an indefinite period.

            The accident happened at 1:30 o’clock.  Only three men were at the plant.  Jeff Wieties, first engineer, was away at the time and his son and assistant, Uffie Wieties, was in charge, with Richard Rogers and Ernest Boody, firing the furnace in the boiler room.  The firemen had just renewed their fires when they heard a pounding of the big engine.  They knew something was wrong and started to investigate.  A brick wall separates the furnace and engine room and the men had just passed through the door connecting the two rooms when the explosion occurred.

            Wieties was standing alongside the steam chest.  When the thumping began he immediately shut off the steam from the engine.  His hand had barely left the throttle when, with a sharp, crackling sound, the chest parted, filling the room with escaping steam and boiling water.

Fights for His Life

            The unfortunate man’s experience in the blinding steam and scalding water was terrifying.  The rushing steam burned him terribly about the head and arms and he was unable to find his way from his perilous position.  The force of the steam turned him round and round, finally driving him against the boxing that encases the big fly wheel.  The door of the boxing was open and Wieties narrowly escaped falling into the spokes of the monster wheel, which was still revolving rapidly from the power that had been operating it.

            Realizing the situation when his hands encountered the wheel boxing, Wieties mechanically closed the door and then, on hands and knees, groped his way across the floor and over the connecting pipes of the engine to the east wall of the room, where he located an exit and escaped from the building.

            In the meantime Rogers and Boody had been active.  Hardly had the accident happened when the power house was filled with escaping steam.  The men made a rush for their imperiled companion but the burning steam and scalding water warned them to retreat.

            Concluding that he was already dead, the men ran back into the boiler room and while Boody began drawing the fires from the furnaces Rogers ran out through the alley entrance and around the side of the building to attempt an entrance from that point.  As he reached the east door of the power house he encountered Wieties, who was just fleeing the building.

Presents Frightful Appearance

            The injured man presented a frightful appearance.  He was blackened about the face and body and wherever the skin had been exposed it was peeling off, having been literally cooked by the steam and water.

            A hurry call was sent to the police station and Wieties was removed in the patrol wagon to St. John’s hospital, where his injuries were dressed.  Lotions were applied to assuage the intense pain the man suffered and he was soon swathed in bandages.  Throughout the ordeal he did not lose consciousness and a few hours after he was placed in the institution he was able to converse with friends.  It is expected that he will recover.

            Two engines are used in the power house.  Both are connected with the boilers by one set of pipes.  As a result, when the accident occurred and the piping connecting the damaged engine with the boilers was torn down, all the steam in the boilers escaped into the engine room.  The firemen drew their fires as quickly as possible, but it was some time after the accident before the steam was got out of the place.

            When the explosion happened all the power was forced upon the smaller engine and the sudden strain caused the band on the fly-wheel of this engine to break, leaving the system without a pound of power and stopping the generation of electricity.

            With the stoppage of currents through trolleys and rails, every street car in the city “died” where it happened to be at the time.  In this manner cars, mostly with a number of passengers aboard, were left standing at points all over the city.  The sudden loss of power was inexplicable to the motormen and conductors and it was some time after the accident that they learned of the seriousness of the situation.

            Later in the afternoon all the cars were hauled into the sheds.  In some instances horses were employed to haul them while in other cases motormen and conductors put their shoulders to the cars and trundled them into the sheds.

            The cause of the accident has not been determined.  According to the firemen, only ninety-two pounds of steam was carried at the time, while it is customary to carry from ninety-five to one hundred pounds.  The boilers were inspected two weeks ago today, but no official examination of the engine was made.  The wrecked engine is of the Bates Corliss type, with a capacity of 414 horse power.  The secondary engine is of similar design, but of only 227 horse power.

            For several weeks past a force of workmen has been busy installing a new engine at the plant.  The new engine also is a Bates, much larger than the old ones and of 800 horse power.  Continued cold weather has prevented the completion of the job before this time and it is expected that the new engine will be in place within two weeks.

Service Crippled Indefinitely

            Just how long the street car service will be suspended or crippled cannot be determined.  As soon as it was found what damage had resulted President William Jarvis, who happened to be in the city from Louisville, telephoned to St. Louis for a new belt to replace the broken one.  This belt will arrive today.  It is believed that the damage to the connecting pipes is not material and that the smaller engine can be made ready for operation within a few hours.

            The small engine, however, can furnish power to operate only eight or ten cars.  Consequently, even after it is in working in order, the service will be badly crippled for a time.  A machinist from the Bates engine works was in the city, at work on the new engine, and he left in the afternoon for Joliet, to secure a new steam chest and other necessary repairs for the larger engine.  It may be several days before the damaged engine is made serviceable.
Illinois State Journal – March 3, 1902