The Story of [the late] Dorothy Balmain – Part 4

The doctor who examined the driver of the car that ran over the three girls stated that he was under the influence of an intoxicant, but not to an extent that he would be unfit to operate a car.


7 - 1930+ Kelly Censures Lynn Findings p1Kelly Censures Lynn Findings

Father of Maimed Auto Victim Hits Test by Doctor

Indignation at the statement of Dr. John V. Lynn of Ridgefield that the driver of the car which injured his daughter last week was “under the influence of some intoxicant, but not unfit to operate a car.” was expressed yesterday by Michael J. Kelly, 1116 Edgewater road, Ridgefield.

Lynn’s statement submitted to the police reads:

“This is to state that the examination of Harvey Lyons, 358 Undercliff avenue, Edgewater, at about 10:30 p. m., Aug. 25, at police headquarters showed this man to be under the influence of some intoxicant, but not, in my professional opinion, to an extent to render him unfit to operate a motor car.”

Kelly declared Ridgefield residents are “seething with anger” at Dr. Lynn’s statement.  The father said yesterday “After a man kills one child outright and lays out two others for dead, then beats it, the village doctor says the ‘hit and run’ one is capable of driving a car. Did anyone ever heard the beat of it?

7 - 1930+ Kelly Censures Lynn Findings p2Kelly Talks

Kelley’s [sic] statement follows: “Harvey Lyons was intoxicated at the wheel of the death car when he drove down the wrong side of the road and killed one girl, leaving two others at death’s door.  He was intoxicated when he stopped near at the beginning of the ride.  He was intoxicated when he drove the car headlong into the children.  He was intoxicated when he stopped near the Ridgefield Cemetery and tried to pull the fan away from the radiator to stop the noise caused by the radiator being smashed back against the fan.

“He was intoxicated when the blonde woman in black came running up the road and cried out to him, ‘For God’s sake, beat it, there are three of them lying on the road.’

“He was intoxicated when Patrolman Charles Sequine picked him up a mile and a half from the scene of the accident.  He was intoxicated when they carted him in the police station and had to be supported to keep him from falling down while being questioned by Sergeant Erickson.  He was intoxicated when taken to the Cliffside police station to be photographed and fingerprinted.  He was still intoxicated when they took him back to Ridgefield an hour or so later.

Hoffman’s Ruling

“In a circular letter sent to law enforcement and judicial officers State Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, Harold G. Hoffman, sets out the legal definition of a drunken driver as follows:

“It is to be noted then that a person charged with operating a motor car while under the influence of liquor need not be in such a physical condition as to be helplessly drunk.  The test is whether he varies in any degree from normal, mental, or physical state, and if he does and the same is the result of the consumption of any liquid which causes intoxication, he is guilty of the offense.

7 - 1930+ Kelly Censures Lynn Findings p3“While the most expert method of ascertaining the condition of the accused is by a doctor’s examination and should be followed wherever possible, such examination is not always essential in order that the defendant be found guilty.  The law permits the testimony of any person to prove the mental or physical condition of the accused.

“A practice which has developed and which is abhorrent to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and is in conflict with the laws of the evidence of this state is the allowance by judicial officers of the introduction of a medical certificate as evidence of the intoxication of the accused.

Law Strict

“Under no circumstances should a judge trying a person charged with a violation of Subdivision 3 of Section 14 of the Motor Vehicle Act, permit the introduction of such a certificate.”

“One driving an automobile on a public street while under the influence of intoxicating liquor offends against the act, even though he drives so slowly and so skillfully and carefully that the public is not even annoyed or endangered.

“I have the signed, sworn statements of 12 people of mature age that Lyons was drunk on the night of Aug. 25, when he caused the calamity he did.”


The whole hit-and-run incident is wrapped up in a final article:

8 - 1930+ Heartless KillerHEARTLESS KILLER

The State’s legal machinery should move with the speed and precision in prosecuting the Edgewater hit-and-run motorist who was responsible for the fatal accident in Ridgefield last week.

There are no mitigating circumstances in the case as reported by the police.

Harvey B. Lyons, driver of the death car, ran down three girls who were walking on the edge of the highway, injuring one victim fatally and two seriously.  Then he ran away.

Excellent police work led to the arrest of the driver.  Later one of his companions who had fled from the car after the mishap was also arrested.

The killer was examined by a physician, who ruled that although he had been drinking he was sufficiently sober to operate a car.  His companion was drunk.

If Lyons was drunk he deserves to go to State’s Prison for his offense.

If he was sober he deserves a prison term for failing to stop to assist his victims after the accident.  Heartless indeed must be the man who would drive away, leaving his victims writing in agony along the roadside, without stopping to determine the extent of their injuries or to offer assistance.

Lyons has been released in [sic] $3,500 bail, a very nominal sum considering the enormity of the offense.  Clever lawyers have a way of beating such cases by taking advantage of every legal technicality.  Prosecutor Losche, in charge of the State’s case, should leave no stone unturned in preparing the evidence.

Examples must be made in such cases if our highways are to be kept free of reckless killers.


Next time, we’ll see how the case against the police officers panned out.


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