On this day in auto history – May 25th

Tue 25th May 2021

It was on this day in 1950 that 34 people were killed on a street in Chicago, making it the world’s largest death toll from a motor collision at that point in history.

The tragedy occurred when an electric tram collided with a gasoline truck at 6.30pm on a busy intersection, causing the truck to jack-knife and set off a series of explosions which consumed nearby buildings and parked cars.

Most of the fatalities were passengers in the tram, including the driver Paul Manning, whilst the driver of the truck Mel Wilson was also killed. The death of both drivers made the ensuing investigation into the crash more difficult but the decision was eventually made to dispense with public streetcars in favour of bus routes that still run today.

Over 50 people were also seriously injured in the crash which sent shockwaves around the world and was to become known as the 'Green Hornet Streetcar Disaster’.

Interest was more recently revived by a harrowing 2012 book written by author Craig Cleve on the incident.