Jackson County, Illinois

Inquest of Vallie Etherton & Frank Hagler

May 28, 1952


Transcribed by Michael P. McGuigan

A coroner's jury in Carbondale Wednesday night returned routine verdicts of accidental death in inquests into the deaths of two Jackson County residents earlier this week. The same coroner's jury, handling the cases in order, ruled that Vallie Etherton and Frank Hagler died of injuries sustained under accidental circumstances. The jury ruled Etherton died of injuries sustained in an explosion of a buffing machine at his work at the Summer One Stop service station in Carbondale Tuesday, and that Hagler died of injuries sustained in an accident on his farm Tuesday evening. Etherton, 54, of Rt. 2, Murphysboro, suffered a fatal injury Tuesday morning when the machine he was working on blew up, throwing heavy pieces of metal against his chest. Charles Taitt, Route 4, Carbondale, who was working in the same area, testified at the inquest. Taitt said he was standing near Etherton, and that the first thing he new there was an explosion, and he was knocked down on the floor. Taitt said Etherton fell on him as he lay on the floor, and that a piece of machine was laying across Etherton's body. There was no evidence as to what caused the machine to blow up, and workmen at the service station said it was the first such incidence they had ever heard of.

Funeral rites for Etherton will be Friday at 2 p.m. at the Crawshaw Mortuary Chapel in Murphysboro, the Rev. Mr. Blaise officiating. Burial will be in Pleasant Grove Cemetery. Hagler, who was 72, died in a freak accident on his farm home five miles south of Carbondale on Route 51, near the junction of the gravel road of Pomona. George Webb, a neighbor of Hagler, testified at the inquest that he was driving on the gravel road when he saw Hagler slumped over the wheel of his tractor out in a field. Webb said he went to the tractor, and climbed onto the seat to try and get Hagler off the machine. He said when he picked up Hagler, the machine lurched, throwing both men off the seat. Hagler fell under the wheel of the tractor, and Webb jumped clear. Hagler was rushed to the Doctor's hospital in Carbondale, but was pronounced dead on arrival. It is believed that when Webb picked Hagler up, the released clutch pedal threw the engine back in gear, causing the tractor to jump. The jury verdict on Hagler's death took into account the suspected heart attack, with the verdict stating Hagler came to his death from injuries sustained "when he was run over by a tractor wheel, while in a weakened condition from an apparent heart attack."  Funeral services for Hagler were to be held today in Carbondale, with burial in the Oakland Cemetery.


May 28, 1952


Transcribed by Michael P. McGuigan

A freak accident, involving a suspected heart attack, an idling tractor motor, and the helpfulness of a passerby, claimed the life of a Carbondale rural resident Tuesday evening. Pronounced dead on arrival at the Doctor's hospital in Carbondale Tuesday evening was Frank Hagler, resident five miles south of Carbondale on Route 51, near the junction of Route 51 and the Pomona gravel road. Jackson County Sheriff Roy Carter, who was at the scene Tuesday evening said Hagler's death apparently was caused by injuries suffered when he fell from the seat of his tractor after a neighbor saw him slumped over the wheel and came to investigate. Carter said George Webb, a neighbor, told law officers he was driving on the Pomona gravel road when he saw Hagler slumped over the wheel of his tractor out in one of his fields.

Webb said he stopped his car and went to investigate. He said he found Hagler unconscious over the wheel, and that he climbed up on the seat to get Hagler off the tractor. Webb said that when he lifted Hagler from the wheel, the tractor lurched throwing the two men off the seat. Hagler fell under a rear wheel, while Webb jumped clear. Law officers at the scene surmised that Hagler's body weight may have fallen on the clutch when he slumped over the wheel, disengaging the motor, and that when Webb lifted Hagler, the clutch threw the engine back in gear. Sheriff Carter said it was learned at the scene that Hagler had been subject to heart trouble, and it is believed he may have suffered a heart attack while cultivating corn in the field.

Jackson County Coroner Edward Knowles called an inquest into the death for tonight at 8:30 o'clock at the Carbondale city hall. Two of Hagler's sons, Paul and Robert, were killed in 1949 in an accident south of Carbondale when they were working in a well. They had attempted to pump out the well to tile it and in putting another length of pipe on the hand pump they apparently lost control of the pump and pipe. The metal pump touched the overhead electric line and both were electrocuted. Both men were married and had no children.

Hagler leaves his wife, Lillian, Rt. 1, Carbondale; two daughters, Mrs. Harold Chew, Carbondale, and Mrs. Clifford Devores, Villa Park; a brother, C. M. Hagler, Carbondale; and four sisters, Mrs. Joe Crowell, and Mrs. Hattie Moseley, both of Carbondale, Mrs. Hollie Blankenship, Herrin, and Mrs. Charles Britt, Little Rock, Ark. Friends may call at the Carbondale funeral home from 2:30 p.m. today until time for services. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home, with Rev. Cy Nance of Cairo, officiating. Burial will be in the Oakland cemetery at Carbondale.

An inquest will be held by Coroner Ed Knowles at 8:30 p.m. today at the Carbondale city hall.

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