Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Cruel Fate of the Rails


The case of Charles Yaeger, a Swiss born public charge at Eloise, seemed unlike so many of the other destitute souls at the institution in that he felt his burden to society.

Long suffering the ill-affects of poverty and asthma he spent a decade at the asylum. He oft commiserated with his fellow countryman Sigmund Fayes about his condition and carefully charted the course for his demise.

After preparing a suicide note to his brother which excused him from an unnecessary burial, he bid his friend Fayes so long, walked from the institution and threw himself in front of a locomotive thus ending his travails.

*     *     *

1908, like most years that Eloise was in service, wasn't a good year for public charges and moving vehicle relations.

While Charles Yaeger's fate was sealed of his own volition in late March of that year, Peter Denault, a several term Eloise alumni, claimed that his November encounter with a street car was due to an epileptic event and not a desire for death as onlookers had spoken to witnessing a suicide attempt whereby the man flung himself in front of the car.

Regardless of intent the motorman spared Denault's life by jamming on the brakes and almost instantaneously halting the car in its tracks. Though dragged 10 feet by the car the victim suffered only bad scratches to his face.

*     *     *

Christmas in the year 1900 should have been a joyous time for John O'Keefe, seven years a public charge at Eloise, since he had a holiday furlough from the asylum but it was not to be as he was struck by a train as he tried to board it, killing him almost instantly.

It's unclear how these facts were arrived at before an inquest had taken place and despite the fact that attendants found the man nearly a half day after the suspected accident but there you have it.

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