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Wednesday, March 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

It was the second day of the Spokane Interstate Fair, but not all was gaiety.

In fact, death was “hovering over the automobile racer whose car turned turtle after bolting through the fence.”

H.S. Kocher of Yakima was driving in the fair’s “free-for-all” race when he lost control of his auto at a curve. A throng of horrified spectators witnessed the crash.

“The long, low, green racing car appeared to have caught the fence with the inside front wheel, for it was suddenly jerked clear around, crashed sideways through the low fence and turned completely over, wheels up,” said a reporter on the scene.

Neither Kocher nor his passenger, the “mechanician,” emerged from the wreckage for “several moments.” However, the mechanician was thrown clear of the wreckage, and he was able to get up and try to free Kocher, who was trapped under the front springs of the upturned car.

Kocher was then rushed to the fair’s medical facility and later to St. Luke’s Hospital, with two broken arms, a crushed left chest, possible pelvic injuries and head lacerations. His survival was uncertain.

This was the second serious auto racing accident of the fair. On opening day, a Stutz Special went through the fence near the same spot, badly injuring mechanician R.L. Williams, who was in the hospital with head injuries.

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