|Riverside, CA Elephant Accident, April 17, 1908
Posted October 17th, 2008 by Stu Beitler
Taken from the Oakland Tribune California
DEATH FOLLOWS IN WAKE OF ELEPHANT.
INFURIATED BEAST KILLS WOMAN AND INJURES SEVERAL IN FIERCE STAMPEDE.
Riverside, April 17. -- Death and destruction followed in the wake of a stampede of elephants in
this city early yesterday afternoon as the result of an explosion in the Standard Oil Company's
MISS ELLA GIBBS, a church deaconness is dead.
L. G. WORSLEY, a driver for the Standard Oil, is fatally injured.
Half a dozen more are more or less seriously injured, not to mention the destruction to property
in the business district. About 1:30 yesterday afternoon a dull boom was heard and the
Sells-Floto shows, which were encamped about two blocks from the oil tanks, quickly dispersed
the crowds and lowered their tents. Frightened by this undue excitement, the herd of elephants
became uncontrollable and charged through the east side of town, knocking down fences,
outhouses and despoiling orchards. Quick action on the part of the keepers, however, was the
means of rounding up all but the largest of the elephants.
Enters Hotel Court.
He it was who did the damage. Changing his course the infuriated beast dashed toward the
center of the city, one mile distant. Turning into the court of the Glenwood Hotel he cast his eye
on MISS GIBBS, who was in the yard in front of the house. The elephant pinned her against the
house between his tusks, threw her to the ground and trampled upon her, crushing her chest
and inflicting fatal injuries. The animal then proceeded to the court yard, the guests rushing,
panic-stricken, indoors. D. F. CHAPMAN, a guest of the house, attempted to swerve the animal
from the court. He was knocked down and had several ribs broken and was otherwise injured.
The beast crashed through the door, walked through the barber shops and out into Main
street, crossed the street and crashed through the heavy plate glass window in a store. Before
being rounded up at a down town public stable the animal trampled on another man and
seriously gored him with its tusks.
Keeper Hurled Over Fence.
One of the keepers attempted to subdue the animal, but was hurled over a high fence,
sustaining painful injuries. Not until four other elephants were brought into the stable was the
huge beast gotten under control and taken to the circus grounds. By this time the entire town
was in an uproar. The ladies of the East Side were afraid to venture into the streets, fearing
that the herd had not been captured.
The keeper of the elephants, whose name is not known, was the means of saving at least two
lives before the big brute was again under control. At the corner of Orange and Seventh
streets the elephant had thrown FRANK A. BIRD and was about to crush him with his full weight
when the keeper came up close behind and fired three shots from a revolver into the
elephant's neck. This caused the big beast to swerve around, his attention being detracted
from his intended victim. In the meantime, however, BIRD had sustained a broken leg and other
Fires Bullet Into Animal.
In the court yard of the Glenwood Hotel D. P. CHAPMAN was thrown by the elephant, and might
have sustained fatal injuries had not the same keeper arrived on the scene in the nick of time.
He fired the remaining four shots from his revolver into the elephant and the brute at once
turned his attention from the man on the ground to his assailant. The left trousers leg of the
keeper was ripped wide open by the infuriated beast and the leg was painfully lacerated. The
flesh from the keeper's right hand also was torn away. At the stable, where the elephant was
brought to bay, another of the circus attendants who assisted in the capture was severely
bruised, although being rescued before any bones had been broken.
Sits Still As Beast Passes.
At the Glenwood Hotel, EVA HOWE, a guest, was sitting in a swing when the infuriated beast
made full at her. She was about to flee, when the elephant's keeper, who was close behind,
advised her to sit still. As a result the elephant rushed by her without molesting her. It is
reported that WORSLEY, driver of the oil wagon on which the fire started, is close to death and
could not survive the day. MISS ELLA GIBBS, who died at 9:45 last night, was a deaconess in
the First Congregational Church of this city.
Injured Man Dying.
With the exception of L. G. WORSELY, the driver of the oil wagon, all the injured in yesterday's
oil fire and elephant stampede are resting easily today. WORSELY although still alive, has
small chance of living through the day. The circus and elephants have left town to the relief of
the townspeople. WILTON LACKAY, the actor, was sitting by a window in the hotel Greenwood,
which was shattered by the elephants. Although showered with broken glass MR. LACKAY
Oakland Tribune California 1908-04-17
|The photo below was taken just before the stampede.
|A post card of the Floto-Sells Circus, cc 1905
|Floto elephants 1914