...The Coroner's Report for our little Joe Farkas. If you didn't get a chance to read about him before, then head to Part 1 and read it before you begin this post.
So what do we know? We know that Joe was hit by a car and died on the 7th of January, 1921. That is the extent of what his death certificate tells us. The Coroner's report gives us details of the accident that we could not have known otherwise. The documents do not detail that Joe was riding a bike. However, family lore dictates this fact, so I will add it to his story.
|A young boy and his bicycle in 1921|
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
It was a warm day in the middle of winter. The temperature was in the mid-50's. Joe had gone out to play and enjoy the rare, warm day. He decided to go ride his bike. He probably got the bike for Christmas, the week before. It was probably brand new, a real treat! He would have been too young for the bike before and he was too old for a "baby" bike. How exciting that would have been. A new bike and a lovely day to go ride it. Could his bike have looked like this, in the photo above? Maybe he was still learning how to keep his balance and he did not mean to be in the street. Maybe the bike was just too big for him and he had not grown into it yet. He might not have had control of the bike, rather than riding in the street on purpose. The accident happened late in the afternoon, maybe he was racing to get home before it became dark.
Fatefully, that afternoon, he was struck by a vehicle in the intersection of 3rd Ave and Ross Street. This intersection was several blocks from his home that was located at 542 Fourth Street. Even in 1921, that area was an extremely busy intersection. Even though cars were new on the scene, Pittsburgh was teeming with vehicles and streetcars. Notice from the map below that there is a park just a block away from where the accident occurred. Even though that park is relatively new, it begs the question: Could he have been going to or from a park somewhere close by?
|The pinned labeled "A" is the location of the house and the Red Dot is|
the intersection where the accident occurred.
Courtesy of Google Maps
|542 Fourth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA|
Current street view from Google Maps
January 4, 1921. He was examined by Dr. Murray who stated that the patient was unconscious, bleeding from several locations around the head, with several bone and skull fractures. They operated on him to relieve some of the cranial pressure at 7 pm. He improved slightly, but never regained consciousness. He struggled for his life for 3 days, but lost the fight on January 7 at 2:30 pm with his mother by his side.
Also present at Joe's death were Dr Murray, Gerald Walsh, Stanley Gorka, Daniel Schaney, Charles McGraw and Julia Leitner. The last 4 individuals were all local people. They might have been Mary's friends, at the time.
Mary dictated a statement or signed a statement written for her, after identifying the body on the 8th. "That the decedent is my son. On Tuesday, Jan 4th, 1921 about 5:30 oclock pm I was notified that my son, the decedent had been struck by an automobile at 3rd Ave and Ross St, Pittsburgh Pa and had been taken to the Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh Pa. I visited the hospital the same evening, Tuesday Jan 4th 1921 and found him unconscious and I was present when he died. That was on Friday Jan 7th 1921 at 2:30 oclock pm." Shortly after this, Joseph Farkas was buried at Calvary Cemetery.
From the list above of those present at Joe's death, is Gerald Walsh. Who is he, you might be asking? He lived in Knoxville, Pennsylvania. in the northeastern part of the state. Mr Walsh, a 20 year old, from out of town had struck a boy with his car late in the evening. It was probably near dusk at that time of the year.It might have been hard to see a child at that time of the day. If you remember from above, he was the one that took Joe to the hospital. He didn't even wait for an ambulance. They were at the hospital within 15 minutes. He also stayed with him for the entire time, and was present when Joe died. This man, the driver of the car, was obviously devastated and traumatized, as well. What a horrible experience for everyone involved.
After Joe's death, the coroner asked for an inquest into the alleged accident. A few weeks later, six jurors, including the deputy coroner, declared that the 5 year old child died from the result of an accident.
All I hear is the gavel as it hits the table when the verdict is announced. It leaves me numb. A little child's life cut short before anyone got to know him.