afternoon of April 10, 1932 Engine Company 2 responded to a structure fire
at 452 1/2 South St. Louis Street. The Stutz Combination Chemical and Hose
Wagon was traveling south on St. Louis Street when it was struck in the rear by
an eastbound auto driven by Helen Martin. The impact spun the engine
almost completely around and overturned it trapping Acting Captain Silvestre
Madrid and the driver, Auto Fireman Alfred H. Dale underneath. Fireman
Walter Dodd ran back to the station for help. Madrid and Dale were
transported to Central Receiving Hospital where Madrid died 11 days later.
Madrid was 38 years old. Dale's pelvic and spinal injuries prevented
his return to duty and he received a disability pension. Helen Martin was
found guilty of manslaughter, jailed for six months and ordered to pay for
Madrid's funeral expenses.
beneath a fire truck which overturned in an automobile crash, Sylvester
Madrid and Alfred H. Dale, city firemen, lay in the Georgia street
hospital recently with barely an even chance to live.
Madrid has a crushed chest, and his companion is
suffering from a broken pelvis and internal injuries.
Walter Dodd, who was riding the rear end of the truck,
was hurled to the street with four other firemen, but all escaped with a
few cuts and brushes.
The accident occurred when the men, members of engine
company No. 2. were answering an alarm near fourth and St. Louis streets.
At that intersection a heavy sedan, driven by Mrs. Helen Martin, of 342
1/2 South Boyle avenue, crashed broadside into the speeding fire truck,
completely overturning it. Madrid and Dale were pinned beneath the
Sargeant Russel Smith, who investigated the accident,
and Patrolman Michael Markick reported finding a gallon of wine in Mrs.
Martin's car. Charles Martin, said to be the woman's brother-in-law.
was arrested and booked on a charge of liquor possession.
Mrs. Martin was placed under arrest, after Dr. William
R. Molony reported at the hospital that she had been drinking.
A third passenger, Mrs. Agnes Jenkins, was released. Mrs. Martin was
charged with transportation of liquor, and with violation of a section of
the penal code defining responsibility for injury to others.
Madrid, a member of the fire department for the last
eight years, lives at 463 North Bernal street, Dale's home is at 1171
The Grape Vine, April
funeral services of the late Fireman Sylvestre Madrid, who passed away
April 21, 1932 as a result of an accident in the line of duty, were held
at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Monday, April 25, 1932.
Fireman Madrid was born November 26, 1894. He
came to Los Angeles and was appointed a member of the Los Angeles Fire
department March 21, 1924. He was loved by all his comrades and soon
made a host of friends. His untimely death was a great shock to his
many friends both in and out of the Department.
Impressive services were held at the church where
Father Reagon paid high tribute to his memory as a fire fighter and to the
firemen in their dangerous occupation of saving and protecting lives and
Engine Company No. twenty-four's pump was used as a
hearse and conveyed the body to the cemetery. Here the funeral
procession was met by a large delegation of uniformed firemen and the Los
Angeles Fire Department Band, who formed an escort to the grave, where the
services were held under the auspices of the Los Angeles Firemen's Relief Association.
Chaplain John Y. Cordell officiating. The setting at the grave was
most beautiful with the many floral tributes offered. The bad played
"Nearer My God to Thee" and taps were sounded by Fireman
Newmeyer, a member of the band which visibly affected the mourners and
He leaves his wife and daughter, Mary, to mourn his
loss. The Los Angeles Fire Department extend to the bereaved family
their sincere sympathy in this hour of sorrow.
|He saw his
He faltered not to count the cost,
In some fair field the living dead
Shall know the kind of men we lost.
Now as his imagery we scan
And see him as he often smiled,
In strength a kind of super-man,
His heart the glad heart of a child.
We pay sad tribute to our dead,
But surely he must live again
Beyond the mists that lie ahead
Among the men that died for men.
The Grape Vine, April
Engine Company No. 2
2127 East First St.
By Bill Goss
I T was a nice warm Sunday afternoon, the tenth of April, 1932 to be
exact, when the men of Engine and Truck 2, B Platoon, stood back and surveyed their
handiwork. They had just completed converting their their old single front wall handball
court into an up-to-date competitive four-wall court. The energetic instigator of the
project had been Silvestre Madrid, a right-handed Class A player, who had the best left
hand in the game at that time. The next shift would mark the beginning of some real games
A short and then a long ring on the fire phone dispersed the group and sent them
scurrying for their respective rigs. Madrid was acting Captain of the Engine that day, as
Captain Humphreys, the company officer, was on a short leave, doing a stretch of sea duty
in his capacity of a naval reserve officer. It was a "wagon only" and as Fireman
Madrid climbed aboard the big red Stutz hose wagon, he called out: "452 1/2 South St.
Louis street" to the auto-fireman, Alfred H. Dale. The rig rolled out of the station
headed west on First street for a short block and then south on St. Louis. Down the gentle
slope towards Fourth street they rolled, red lights burning and the siren giving out its
undulating howl, with Fireman Walter Dodd riding the back end all alone. Fireman Dodd was
having a time fastening the snaps on his turnout coat and without paying particular
attention he felt the wagon slow as they neared the dangerous corner of Fourth street,
when all of a sudden he found himself flying through the air, landing some fifteen to
twenty feet from the right. What happened was that Auto Fireman Dale had slowed down for
the dangerous and partially blind intersection of Fourth street and St. Louis and seeing
no autos close by, proceeded across the intersection. When about half way over the car
tracks he noted a fast approaching sedan bearing down on the wagon but despite his efforts
to avoid a collision by swerving, the rig was struck on the left side near the rear and
spun around until it nearly headed back north on St. Louis and at the same time rolled
over on its side and continuing, ended wheels up with Acting Captain Madrid and
Autofireman Dale pinned beneath it. Walter Dodd picked himself up and making a quick
apprisal of the situation sprinted all the way back to quarters where he informed Captain
Bob Rainey of Truck 2 of what had happened. Meanwhile Police Officer Mike Mrakich who had
been phoning in from the police box on the corner, and several other people who had been
standing nearby watching the big red rig come down the street, all pitched in and managed
to get the injured men out from under the overturned wagon. Captain Rainey and his crew
arrived about then and quickly summoned an ambulance from the nearby police station, and
making Madrid and Dale as comfortable as possible, proceeded to unload and right the
Upon arrival at the Receiving Hospital Madrid was diagnosed to have
abrasions on the arms and legs, fractures in the chest area, fractured
pelvis and internal injuries. Alfred Dale suffered from contusions and
abrasions and a fractured pelvis also. For the first few days Silvestre
Madrid seemed to progress as satisfactorily as possible, considering his
injuries, and then he contracted traumatic pneumonia and despite all the
resources of medicine and surgery and constant and careful attention Madrid
passed away in the presence of his wife and daughter, at 1:40 p.m., April
In the following investigation by the police and the corner's inquest, it was
brought out that 2's wagon had been struck by a Stutz sedan driven by a Mrs. Helen Martin
who said she had not heard the siren. Amongst the witness who had seen the accident was
Jose Supelveda who had the tip of his thumb cut off by the yet turning siren when he
attempted to get the overturned engine off the injured men. Mrs. Martin was recommended
held for manslaughter, but nothing ever came of the case.
Autofireman Dale never recovered from the injuries to his pelvis and lower spine
and had to leave the department on a disability pension.
Fireman Madrid was buried from Saint Mary's Catholic church at Fourth and
Chicago streets. Internment was in Calvary cemetery and the services were held under the
auspices of the Firemen's Relief Association. He was survived by his widow, Mrs. Luz N.
Madrid, a daughter, Mary, now a U.S. Navy Wave and a nephew, Max Madrid, a Captain of the
Silvestre Madrid was born in San Elizardo, Texas, September 26, 1894, and was
appointed to the Los Angeles Fire Department March 21, 1924. A quiet, well liked fellow,
good sportsman, he has a tremendous enthusiasm for the job and the department. He was a
victim of the greatest danger firemen are exposed to daily and the one to which they
probably give the least thought.