Cope, George (Unknown - November 19, 1917)


CROSSING John Lefler and George Cope Killed by Passenger Trail END COMES SUDDENLY Coroner's Jury Censures Engine Crew For Failure to Give Adequate Warning

Douglas Budget - November 22, 1917

John Lefler, aged 36, and George Cope, aged about 62, were instantly killed shortly after noon Monday when the wagon in which they were riding was struck by the westbound Northwestern passenger train. The accident occurred at the Irvine crossing, about seven miles south of Douglas. The bodies of the men and debris from the demolished wagon lodged on the pilot of the engine and were carried about 600 yards before the train was stopped. The train was traveling at the rate of about thirty miles an hour at the time of the accident.

The bodies were brought to Douglas on the train and taken in charge by Coroner Hofmann. A jury, consisting of J.A. McDowell, Wm. Howard and Charles Gilbert, was empannelled and with County Attorney Hawley went to Irvine to view the scene and take the testimony of witnesses. The crossing at Irvine affords a clear view of the track in either direction and there seems a little reason for an accident to occur as it did. Testimony showed that Lefler and Cope came through the gate, stopped to close it and then proceeded leisurely across the track. Women at the section house waved frantically to them to warn them of the approaching danger but the men did not know what was meant, Cope waving back at them as if in salute.

The testimony of those at the scene was that no warning whistle was blown by the engineer, nor was the bell rung.

Tuesday noon the testimony of the train crew was taken at the Northwestern station. The engineer, E.W. Bates, testified that he blew the whistle and rang the bell. He said he did not see the men until the fireman had told him of the danger, the position of the station obstructing his view. He then tried to stop, but was too close to the crossing to make that possible. The testimony of the fireman corroborated that of the engineer. Conductor Frank Flanagan knew nothing of the tragedy until after it had happened.

Engineer Bates is one of the oldest engineers on the road and is recognized as a careful man. This is said to be his first fatality in thirty-eight of service.

John Lefler is survived by a wife and two children, the younger a babe of but a few months. He had resided in the Irvine district about six years and was highly respected by his neighbors.

George Cope was about 62 years of age and had been a resident of this county for the last four years. He came from Fort Collins, Colo., where relatives now live. A brother-in-law, J.E. Walker of Fort Collins, arrived yesterday and took charge of the body, which was sent last night to Fort Collins for burial. Four children survive, two daughters living in Colorado, one son at Sheridan and another who is a member of the Idaho troops in the army. His wife died four years ago.

Burial services were held for Lefler Tuesday afternoon. Interment was in Douglas cemetery.

The coroner's jury returned the following verdict:
"We, the undersigned coroner's jury, find that the deceased came to their death by being struck by passenger train No. 603 at Irvine, through failure to hear any warning signals and approaching crossing without looking for train. We also find that the engine crew contributed to the death of these men by not taking proper precautions when approaching crossing.


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