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The first death from a car accident is said to have been Mary Ward, an Irish scientist, in 1869. It is said she was struck by a steam powered automobile which witnesses said was travelling at a “reckless pace, like a fire engine.” The driver claimed he was only going about 4 miles per hour. A coroner’s inquest returned a verdict of an “accidental death” and there was no prosecution, witht he coroner saying he hoped such a thing would never happen again.” A few years later in 1896, Bridget Driscoll was killed in a car accident in London, dashing the coroner’s hopes.
Henry Hale Bliss was the first person to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in America. He was struck by an electric powered taxi cab when disembarking a street car in Central Park in 1899. His head and chest were crushed in the accident. He died from those injuries the next morning. The cab driver was charged with manslaughter but was acquitted on the grounds that the death was unintentional.
And with those events began the 20th century and the thousands among thousand of traffic deaths that have plagued society for almost 110 years. Such accidents are most often simply mistakes, not subject to criminal prosecution. The only justice is found in civil courts for monetary compensation to the families of the victims under wrongful death statutes which vary from state to state.