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PRESSLER v. PITTSBURGH. O'DONNELL V. PITTSBURGH RAILWAYS COMPANY (11/23/65)

decided: November 23, 1965.

PRESSLER, APPELLANT,
v.
PITTSBURGH. O'DONNELL V. PITTSBURGH RAILWAYS COMPANY, APPELLANT



Appeals from judgments of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1960, Nos. 65, 1411, 2785, 2787 and 3513, in cases of James H. Pressler v. City of Pittsburgh and Bernard Daugherty; Pittsburgh Railways Company v. Same; Bernard Daugherty v. Pittsburgh Railways Company; Paul J. O'Donnell v. Pittsburgh Railways Company, City of Pittsburgh and Bernard Daugherty; and John W. Gasior v. Same.

COUNSEL

Leo Daniels, with him Prichard, Lawler & Geltz, for appellant.

George Shorall, Assistant City Solicitor, with him David Stahl, City Solicitor, for City of Pittsburgh, appellee.

Thomas L. Cooper, with him McArdle, Harrington, Feeney & McLaughlin, for appellees.

Thomas Park Shearer, with him Brandon, Shearer & Flaherty, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen and O'Brien, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Musmanno. Mr. Justice Jones concurs in the result.

Author: Musmanno

[ 419 Pa. Page 441]

On Sunday, April 17, 1960, at about 4 p.m., the fire gong in Engine House No. 4 on Stevenson Street in Pittsburgh clanged the tidings of a fire raging on Our Way in the tenement area of what is known as

[ 419 Pa. Page 442]

    the Lower Hill District in Pittsburgh. With the proverbial catamount swiftness of firemen responding to an alarm, the crew members leaped to their designated positions on their Seagrave Pumper No. 187, with Hoseman Bernard Daugherty, as acting captain, at the wheel, Paul J. O'Donnell on the front seat beside him, John Gasior mounting the rear platform of the fire apparatus.

With lights flashing and sirens wailing, the fire truck roared out of the engine house on to the pavement of Stevenson Street, turned left and headed north. When it reached Forbes Avenue, which intersects Stevenson Street, running east and west, Hoseman Daugherty brought his heavy equipment to a stop, all the while however keeping the red light atop the truck flashing and the fire siren functioning at top pitch. He noted a streetcar headed eastwardly some 200 feet away and, while the air-piercing siren continued to blast, he moved into the intersection. He had gotten three-fourths of the way across Forbes Street when the streetcar, traveling at a speed in excess of 40 miles per hour, crashed into the fire vehicle, knocking the crew members loose from their positions. The force of the thunderous impact sent Fireman John W. Gasior, who had been standing on the rear platform, catapulting through the air, over the streetcar, and eventually landing beneath it. Fire hose released by the violence of the collision went serpentining into the street and, fortunately, crossed the streetcar track, halting the movement of the streetcar which otherwise might have run over the prostrate fireman Gasior. Even so, the streetcar traveled some 75 feet east of the intersection after the impact and then derailed. The fire truck was spun around by the momentum of the double juggernaut collision and came to rest at the northeast corner of Forbes Avenue.

[ 419 Pa. Page 443]

When the dust, noise, confusion and agonized shouting of the scene had quieted, and the juggernauts were stilled, an appraisal of the havoc caused by the collision counted four injured persons, a ...


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