One Man is Killed, Two Badly Injured in Beer Load Crash

by Laurel | December 9th, 2013

 Hampden Ale, Willimansett

Note: Last week, December 5th marked the 80th anniversary of the end of Prohibition (1933). On Friday, the following day, in addition to the tragic accident described below, the headlines also announced the winners of local elections.  Holyoke’s Mayor Henry J. Toepfert  is reelected by a margin of 4272 votes.  Onell Deroy wins the Chicopee mayoral race and in Northampton the victor is James P. Boland.

06 December 1933

Alfred J. Cormier of Pawtucket is Dead
When Taken From Under Crushing Heap of Kegs at Fairview —
Two Others From Pawtucket Seriously Injured
When Truck Collides With Trolley Car

Thirty-five kegs of newly legalized beer, one of the first shipments to leave the Hampden Brewery at Willimansett last night crushed one man to death and sent others to Holyoke Hospital in serious condition when the truck on which they were loaded crashed into a street railway car a Britton and Willimansett streets, Fairview. The dead man, believed to have ben the driver of the truck, was identified as Alfred J. Cormier of 116 Coyle Avenue, Pawtucket, R.I.

George L. Angereline of Pawtucket was taken to the House of Providence hospital at Holyoke, suffering from a possible fractured skull, a broken right forearm and a fractured right femur. His name was placed on the anger list and he was still unconscious at last reports. Andrew Kropf of 748 Broadway, Pawtucket, as taken to the Holyoke City Hospital suffering from a fractured right femur and possible internal injuries.

The three men were crushed in the cab of the truck when the heavy load of the kegs avalanched into the cab, totally destroying the front part of the truck and burying the men under the load of the beer, Passersby hurriedly drove into the wreckage and, after removing kegs, succeeded in extracting the men. It was seen that Cormier was dead but his companions were placed in automobiles and rushed to hospitals.As far as could be learned police in the preliminary investigation, Cormier had gone to the Hampden Brewery with the truck to get the load of beer for the Connecticut Valley Distributing Corporation of Pawtucket. After being loaded with 35 kegs of  the new beer he headed for home with his helpers. Police are unable to account for the accident although a heavy mist shrouded Montcalm Street and a slight drizzle of rain made driving hazardous.

Residents of the district told police their homes were shaken as though by an earthquake and as they rushed to the strery, they saw the accident. The truck struck with such a force that the street car left the rails and arrived across the street in a diagonal direction for nearly 40 feet. The truck careened sideways, crossed the roadway and stopped on the left-hand side of the road against an electric light pole.

The windows of the street car were shattered to bits and the highway was showered with broken glass. Thomas Shepherd, operator of the street car and only person aboard at the time of the accident, escaped unhurt although subject to the barrage of glass. The imprint of the truck headlights were distinguishable on the side of the trolly and one of the trolly tracks was damaged by the impact.

One of the Worst Recent Accidents

Cormier was operating his truck north on Montcalm and the street car was was proceeding west on Britton Street when the crash occurred. The front end of the truck, held by the street car, acted as a crusher when the load of kegs, hurled by the impact smashed the cab. It was characterized as one of the worst recent crashes and wonder was expressed that ant of the men escaped alive.

The wrecked truck was towed to Winston’s garage at Willimansett and the street car was later taken to the Holyoke barn. A truck was summoned from the Hampden Brewery to pick up the kegs of beer from the highway and return them to the plant. Chicopee police investigating the accident maintained careful watch over the scattered kegs to prevent theft while awaiting arrival of the truck.

The dead man was removed to Grise’s undertaking parlors to await disposition of the family at Pawtucket.

Police said they felt Cormier was the driver of the truck as an operator’s license was found in his possession. It is thought the other two men were helpers. Angereline remained at the Providence Hospital for more than two hours without being identified until a newspaperman handling his wristwatch happened to notice his name engraved on the bracelet. The investigation by police regarding the fatality will be continued today.

From The Springfield Republican

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Suggested Holyoke Books

Mountain Park -- The Holyoke destination we all loved.

Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke College, Postcard History by Donna Albino. Many Holyoke women have attended Mount Holyoke. Author also maintains an amazing MHC website based upon her personal collection.

Holyoke - Chicopee, A Perspective

Holyoke-Chicopee: A Perspective, by Ella Merkel DiCarlo. DiCarlo, a former Transcript columnist offers a fascinating compilation of her essays. Published in 1982, this out-of-print book is worth looking for in the aftermarket.


Holyoke, by Craig Della Penna. The first Holyoke book in the Arcadia series, published in 1997.

Belle Skinner Collection

Belle Skinner Collection, by Ruth Isabel Skinner. Published in 1933, this book is long out of print but copies are still available in the aftermarket.

Mitch Epstein: Family Business

Mitch Epstein: Family Business Published in 2003, available in the aftermarket. Epstein's furniture.