Tragedy struck the Queen Anne community on Sunday, January 12, 1930, when four young people were killed and six more badly injured in a horrific sledding accident. It was the culmination of a deadly weekend for winter recreation seekers throughout the city and around Puget Sound. The days leading up to the tragedy had been unusually cold, with temperatures falling into the teens and intermittent snowfall.
The sled, carrying 12 riders ranging in age from 14 to 22, collided with an automobile at the northeast corner of 1st Avenue West and West Garfield Street. Everett Jensen, the 19-year-old driver of the car and son of wealthy Walla Walla department store founder A.M. Jensen, ignored the police barricade put in place on the designated “coasting” hill. The 16-year-old pilot of the sled, Ray Whitteman, managed to steer the loaded coaster to his right after they saw the car’s headlights enter their path. Inexplicably, Jensen steered the car to his left, leaving no time or room to redirect the sled. Whitteman died instantly. Three others — Helen Haw, 15; Margaret Chadburne, 16; and Clyde Tucker, 22 — all died in hospital.
Jensen admitted to taking several drinks before he and his passenger, Henry Farish, headed to Queen Anne to visit Jensen’s girlfriend. Farish confirmed that Jensen had been drinking and had ignored him when he told him he had passed a police barrier. The coroner who attempted to question Jensen at the scene described him as so drunk that he couldn’t talk sense. Despite this, a jury found Jensen not guilty in his criminal trial four months later.
This image of the scene featured in The Seattle Times the following day includes an artist’s rendering of the accident and an inset image of Alice Logan, who witnessed the tragedy from her home at 105 1st Avenue West.
The days leading up to the accident on Queen Anne saw widespread sledding and skating accidents. The Friday Seattle Times reported that eleven people had been injured, two critically, in separate incidents around the city. On Saturday, 21-year-old Earl Vance, son of Seattle lumber and real estate magnate Joseph Vance, drowned after falling through thin ice while skating with his 17-year-old girlfriend, Dolores Totten, on Steel Lake, south of Seattle. Ms. Totten was able to scramble to the shore.
After the tragedy on Queen Anne, Seattle Police Chief Louis Forbes and Mayor Frank Edwards issued a formal order to the police department to stop all coasting in Seattle. The streets throughout the city that had been designated for the activity were immediately sanded, and people caught sledding on any city street were subject to arrest.