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in cases of this character. Because of past and possible future court action in this case, photographs of the truck in question and a 24- by 30-inch print, showing the principal objects and thoroughfares, drawn to scale, have been secured and will be found herewith. The preliminary reports contained the usual information furnished in accident cases and the result of the coroner's inquest and criminal charge against the driver of the mail truck. He was exonerated. Up to the time of the submission of the last report, an opinion had not been reached as to civil liability.
3. The investigation disclosed that drivers of postal trucks collecting mails from Station A were given no special instructions with regard to the manner of approach to the rear loading door of the station on Lutz Place. Since opinion as to the best approach varies among drivers who collect mails from this station, it is felt that the supervisors of the Chicago office were not negligent in not directing drivers that one or another method be strictly followed. It is believed good judgment dictated to allow drivers to proceed as they best saw fit. Three disinterested driver-mechanics were interviewed to learn their method of approaching the loading door of the station with the same size truck, and the results were as follows:
A. John V. Lennon states that he has been a driver-mechanic for 3 years and has had 20 years of driving experience; that during that period, he had driven a 5-ton coal truck for 1 years and a large furniture van for 6 years. He states that he drives from Ogden Avenue west into Lutz Place, stops headed in the same direction at the station back door, picks up one registered pouch, and continues west to Frontier Street, where he turns right onto that street, with some difficulty. He explains that he drives slowly because of the extremely narrow street, and must allow his left front wheel to run over the curb and onto the sidewalk slightly; that he then backs the truck once, cramping the front wheels in the opposite direction, after which he drives forward on Frontier Street to North Avenue. He states he frequently sees children playing on Frontier Street, but his guard watches to the rear as the truck moves backward.
B. Major Berry states that he has been a driver-mechanic for 17 years and has had approximately 29 years of driving experience, dri large trucks since about 1922. He backs into Lutz Place from Ogden Avenue, in a manner very similar to that followed by Harry McMillan. He states he has considered driving into Lutz Place from the west, and went on foot to the intersection of Lutz Place and Frontier Street on more than one occasion, after which he decided the most advisable approach was that which he follows. He advises he uses a high degree of care in driving backward, and that at times he is guided by a guard, but on some occasions the guard remains on the seat of the truck until the truck is very close to the loading door.
C. William D. Pickett states he has been a driver-mechanic for 20 years and has been driving large postal trucks for the past 10 years. He drives forward into Lutz Place from Ogden Avenue, and turns the truck around in that thoroughfare Dear the station back door. He explained it is necessary to run the truck forward and backward three or four times, cramping the front wheels each time, in the effort to head it in the opposite direction, and he stated he has some doubts that his policy of turning around is the best. He gave the opinion that a slight amount of time might be saved by backing into Lutz Place, and admitted there was some danger in his method, as a pedestrian could be pinned against the wall of the buildings on the north side of the roadway, or property damage could occur if the truck would accidentally lunge forward or backward.
4. It is apparent that a high degree of care must be exercised by a driver who chooses to back his truck from Ogden Avenue westward approximately 150 feet to the loading door of Station A as was done in the case under consideration. An examination of the photograph will show that the rear view mirrors permit visibility only directly to the rear along the sides of the truck, and the lines of vision do not converge. A driver on the left-hand side of the truck, making a backward turn to the right as indicated on the print, is at a tremendous disadvantage, since he is able to see practically nothing in Lutz Place until the truck is parallel with the edge of the roadway. It therefore follows that a prudent driver would stop on Ogden Avenue when he first reaches Lutz Place and look Westward to determine definitely that the thoroughfare is clear, then drive carefullv forward and outward from the curb, and later begin his backward turn; further, if there was any doubt that the way was clear, he would alight from the truck, satisfy himself, and continue to back slowly; he would sound his horn before backing and a few times during the operation.
5. Harry McMillan, the driver in this case, claims that he looked west on Lutz Place when he first approached it but found no pedestrians or vehicles. He evidently failed to carefully observe conditions, as the guard sitting beside him saw the small boys playing near the back door of the station. The guard did not obstruct the driver's view. Driver-Mechanic McMillan states he sounded his horn, but neither the guard nor the witness heard same; there is, therefore, some justification in doubting this statement. Driver-Mechanic McMillan did not stop and alight from the truck at any time after he started to back same to ascertain that the way was clear, despite the fact that his visibility to the rear was negligible.
6. Albert Scherer, immediately before his death, was playing baseball on a public thoroughfare with his younger brother and John Simon. He was walking backward in an easterly direction as the other two boys were walking forward, facing eastward. They were in the act of tossing the ball to each other, and none of the boys saw the truck until it was too late to avoid the accident. While there might be some reason to believe there was contributory negligence on the part of Albert Scherer, it is felt he was not matured to the extent of appreciating the dangers incident to the use of public thoroughfares for the purpose stated. Furthermore, the backward movement of a truck 150 feet or more is unusual and unexpected, and this factor, in my opinion, tends to relieve the boy entirely with regard to the question of contributory negligence.
7. It is consequently my conclusion that Driver-Mechanic Harry McMillan failed to exercise the high degree of care necessary in this instance, and his negligence was the proximate cause of the accident. The postmaster arrived at the same conclusion and has assessed the employee 200 demerits. The employee has since requested and has been granted a run which does not include Station A. According to the records, this employee had 19 accidents since 1928, in 10 of which he was held responsible. He is considered a fair driver by his supervisors, who are giving accident prevention proper attention at Chicago.
8. Mrs. Katherine Scherer, the mother, has filed a claim in the amount of $10,000. In support thereof she furnished a bill for $200.85 for funeral expenses, submitted by Joseph G. Waldner, funeral director. This bill, which is as yet unpaid, has been verified and is believed to be reasonable. Mrs. Scherer is & widow, her husband having died about a year ago. She now has only one son, 11 years of age. She is in poor financial circumstances. Mrs. Scherer stated she carried no insurance on the life of her son Albert.
9. It is believed a reasonable settlement in this case with Mrs. Katherine Scherer, 1545 Frontier Street, Chicago, Ill., would be indemnity in the amount of $1,000. Proper reference of this report is recommended.
L. P. WELLNITZ,
UNITED STATES Post OFFICE,
Chicago, IU., June 18, 1943. Date of accident: May 14, 1943. Capacity, make, and number of truck: 3-ton White 393053. Name of operator: Harry A. McMillan, driver-mechanio. Amount of damage to mail truck: $Name of other party: Katherine Scherer. Amount of claim filed: $10,000. Fourth AssistANT PostMASTER GENERAL,
Division of Motor Vehicle Service, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SIR: From information on hand it appears that the mail truck, which had been southwest-bound in Ogden Ave., was thereafter backed westward in Lutz Place, when it struck the boy who was then facing west in the roadway about 40 feet from the intersection of Ogden Avenue, playing ball with two other boys, the left rear of the mail truck coming in contact with the boy and the left rear wheel of the mail truck running over and crushing his skull. Since it is evident that the proximate cause of this accident was the failure of the driver-mechanic to exercise a high degree of care when backing the mail truck within said thoroughfare, considering he was en route to the loading door of Postal Finance Station A, located about 155 feet west of Ogden Avenue, a penalty of 200 demerits will be assessed against his efficiency record. Claim for damages should be allowed in a reasonable amount.
In support of the claim there was submitted an itemized statement from & funeral director relating to funeral expense of the deceased in the amount of $200.85, which is the customary charge for such services in this city, and appears to be reasonable.
The driver-mechanic was involved in no accidents from May 14, 1942, to
ERNEST J. KRUETGEN, Postmaster.
JOSEPH G. WALDNER,
Chicago, June 12, 1943. Mrs, KATHERINE SCHERER,
1545 Frontier Ave. Funeral expense of the late Albert J. Scherer, deceased, May 17, 1943:
White casket, embalming, hearse to St. Joseph, death notice, palm
and sern decoration, votive candles, services, and complete care. $143. 85 Cemetery charges....
APRIL 25, 1944.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House and ordered
to be printed
Mr. PITTENGER, from the Committee on Claims, submitted the
(To accompany H. R. 3976)
the bill do pass.
The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 3976) for the relief of Charles L. Kee, having considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment and recommend that
The purpose of the proposed legislation is to appropriate the sum of $9,000 to Charles L. Kee, of Portsmouth, Va., in full settlement of all claims against the United States for damages arising out of the loss by officers of the United States Navy on June 26, 1920, at Hampton Roads, Va., of an aircraft-planted mine invented by Charles L. Kee and constructed by him for demonstration.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
It appears that on June 26, 1920, at Hampton Roads, Va., officers of the United States Navy were demonstrating an aircraft-planted mine, invented and manufactured by Charles L. Kee, which was lost at sea and never recovered.
S. 821 of the Seventy-sixth Congress was passed by both Houses of Congress and vetoed by the President. În the President's veto message he states:
At the time that it occurred no Government officer or employee was in control of the apparatus which disappeared at sea.
However, it appears from the record this aircraft-planted mine was being demonstrated from a Navy plane. In this report will be found letters from different officials of the Navy Department giving Mr. Kee full cooperation in this demonstration. În_the report of the Navy Department of April 29, 1938, signed by William D. Leahy, Acting Secretary, it is stated that the Navy Department interposes no objection to the enactment of the bill.