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Herbert Bell – The Unfortunate Victim of a Railroad Accident, His Attempted Suicide, and How He Found Success as a Bicycle Acrobat

Herbert Bell was the unfortunate victim of a railroad accident in 1912. He attempted suicide in 1914 due to his inability to earn a living, but was later able to find success as a bicycle acrobat. Read the full story here.
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Herbert Bell was the unfortunate victim of a railroad accident in 1912, where he lost his left above the knee. He was able to sue for damages, but only recouped $500 (shocking and sad). He was an electrician in New York, living at the time on Long Island, but was having a hard time making a living. So difficult, that he told his friends that in his condition, he’d rather be dead.

The New York Times reported his attempted suicide in January of 1914.

Because he has only one leg and his wife and child left him owing to his inability to earn a livelihood for them, Herbert Bell, 22 years old, of 78 East Avenue, Long Island City, attempted suicide  by carbolic acid late Tuesday night. Yesterday he was arraigned before Magistrate Fitch, and was committed to the Queens County jail in default of $1,000 bail.

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Talk about a super crappy turn of events. Not to make light of a bad situation for a depressed man, but not only did he suffer from consuming carbolic acid in an attempt to end his life, he was arrested and incarcerated with a $1,000 bail? I’m sorry, but that does not seem like the proper way to treat someone who is depressed.

Well, there is a silver lining. Fast forward seven years and he’s a bicycle acrobat. Yes, you read that correctly. He’s paired up with a man by the name of Joe Carso performing bicycle stunts on the street in Washington. Below are the photographs, courtesy of Shorpy.


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