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Tragedy on Klingle Ford Bridge: The 1925 Fatal Wreck of Henry Thayer and His Family

On June 16th, 1925, the Thayer family veered off Klingle Ford Bridge on Connecticut Avenue, plunging 75 feet and resulting in the death of Mr. Thayer and his daughter. Read the tragic story of the Thayer family's fatal wreck and the sole survivor, baby Miriam Macias.
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Here’s a tragic story. On Tuesday, June 16th, 1925, a family was driving down Connecticut Avenue towards the city and in a split second, veered off the road, through a guard railing and plunged 75 feet off of Klingle Ford Bridge.

Connecticut Avenue bridge wreck in 1925 (Shorpy)
Connecticut Avenue bridge wreck in 1925 (Shorpy)

Henry A. Thayer, chief of the supply division of the U.S. veterans’ bureau, and his daughter Mrs. Lois Virginia Macias, were killed last night when the sedan automobile which he was driving ripped through the guard railing of the Klingle bridge on Connecticut avenue, plunging 75 feet to a creek below.

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Thayer’s son-in-law, Joseph A. Macias, a clerk at the veterans’ bureau, and his 2-year-old granddaughter were injured, Mr. Macias critically and the baby slightly.

Thayer was killed instantly and Mrs. Macias died a few hours later in Emergency hospital. Mr. Macias is in the hospital suffering from a fractured skull, internal injuries, a fracture of a leg and cuts and bruises. The baby is suffering only abrasions on the head.

Early last evening Mr. Thayer started with the family for a ride about the city and suburbs. They were returning to the city and reached the Klingle bridge about 10 o’clock. The front wheels of the auto were seen to wobble and before the car could be stopped it swerved across the roadway, struck another car, and caromed off the bridge into space. As the auto somersaulted 75 feet to the highway below, passersby heard the shrill screams of the baby, which were lost in the terrifying crash of the auto.

The machine which was struck by the Thayer car in its dash off the bridge was that owned and driven by Gouverneur Parrish, 3945 Connecticut avenue, who narrowly escaped being pushed into the valley below. The Thayer car brushed the rear of his car and it was only by a frantic jerk of the wheel that he held the auto on the bridge.

Passing at the time of the accident were Max Hay and William Washington, colored. They ran to the wreckage of the car and endeavored to free its occupants. Other passersby ran to telephone and summon aid. Truck company No. 9 was dispatched to the scene and ambulances from Emergency hospital soon arrived.

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My. Thayer was found to be dead upon the arrival of physicians, and Mr. and Mrs. Macias were unconscious. The baby was stunned, but soon regained consciousneess [sic].

The Klingle bridge is a wooden one and is a short distance from the entrance to the Zoo. This section of highway is highly traveled, and news of the accident spread rapidly, bringing scores of autos and pedestrians to the scene. Police reserves from several precincts were necessary to maintain order.

Witnesses expressed the opinion that the steering knuckle of the auto broke, rendering it beyond Mr. Thayer’s control. It was said that the machine was traveling

at a moderate speed, but that the narrowness of the span did not give Mr. Thayer sufficient space in which to stop his car before it crashed through the railing.

Mr. Thayer formerly was an officer in the U.S. navy, serving through the world war with the rank of commander. He was 50 years old and retired from service a few years ago. He lived at 113 W street northwest an Mr. and Mrs. Macias and their daughter made their home with him. Mr. Macias is 24 years old and Mrs. Macias was 28 years old.

Sadly, Mr. Macias also succumbed to his injuries and died shortly thereafter. The only survivor of the accident was little baby Miriam Macias. Although from the looks of the newspaper photograph below, the baby was really a toddler.

The orphaned Miriam Macias with her grandmother Mrs. Thayer August 21st, 1925 (Washington Post)
The orphaned Miriam Macias with her grandmother Mrs. Thayer August 21st, 1925 (Washington Post)

Joseph Macias was slightly younger than his wife, and I found him in the 1920 U.S. Census. He was living with his family at 1465 Rhode Island Ave. NW (really close to Helix Lounge). Also, his parent were both originally from Cuba.

Joseph A. Macias 1920 U.S. Census
Joseph A. Macias 1920 U.S. Census
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