(Date Unknown - November 19, 1931)
The Lusk Herald
November 19, 1931
Two Men are Killed in Crash on Hiway 20
Two men, unidentified as yet, met probable instant death on Highway No. 20 early this (Thursday morning) when the car in which they were riding, a stripped-down Ford, went into the ditch about 5 miles west of Van Tassell, pinning both men underneath. Their lifeless bodies were discovered by a Mr. Barton of Gordon, Nebr., who was trucking a load of coal to his home when he came upon the wreckage at the side of the road a little before six o'clock this morning. After determining for certain that life was extinct in both bodies, Barton went on to Van Tassell and notified Mayor Fjordbak, who in turn phoned Sheriff Will Hassed.
In company with County Coroner George Earl Peet, Sheriff Hassed rushed to the scene of the accident, examined the surroundings and brot the bodies back to this city, placing them in charge of the Peet Mortuary.
Papers on the person of the elder man, who appears to be about 55 years old, leads to the belief that he is David Gabrielson, of Red Lodge, Mont. Other letters, later discovered, but of recent dating, are from some party in Harrington, Kans., but the signature is indefinite as to whether they be from his wife, sister or a friend.
Officials here have been in communication with both Red Lodge and Harrington, and it is believed that their identity will be made known before evening.
According to Coroner Peet, the accident may have occurred about 3 o'clock this morning, as a watch found in the pocket of one of the men had stopped at that hour.
They were headed east when the smashup occurred and it is believed that they might have gone through this city a short while before they met death. It is presumed, also, that they were on their way to Kansas, judging from the contents of the letters, officials say.
Lusk Free Lance
November 26, 1931
Identification of Men Killed in Crash Last Week Revealed
Identity of the two men killed on Highway No. 20, early last Thursday morning, reached local officials before the end of the week, after communication had been established with Montana officials and relatives of one of the men at Harrington, Kan. The younger man was David Gabrielson, age 29, and the elder was John Forsman, who was accompanying Gabrielson to Kansas. A description given over the phone by a brother, Alfred Gabrielson from Harrington, to Coroner George Earl Peet, matched that of the younger man, and officials at Red Lodge, Mont., confirmed the identity of Forsman.
According to the Montana authorities, both men had "records" in that section. Gabrielson had served a term in the state penitentiary at Deer Lodge, Mont., for forgery, and Forsman is reported to have had a police record. It is understood that young Gabrielson had been in Kansas this summer and was again on his way to that state after going to Red Lodge to get some personal effects that had belonged to his deceased mother. He had left Harrington November 7th and had been in Red Lodge and on the return trip when the fatal accident happened.
It is believed by Sheriff Will Hassed and Coroner Peet, who viewed the scene of the tragedy, that both men had gone to sleep as they drove along the highway. The car's tracks had gradually drifted towards the edge of the grade for more than a hundred feet before going over the shoulder of the roadbed. Both men were found with their bodies pinned beneath the car and their faces down in the sandy ground. For this reason, it appears that suffocation may have caused the death of both. It is probable, according to Coroner Peet, that both were stunned in the crash and died before regaining sufficient consciousness to extract themselves from the wreckage or to turn their heads and avoid suffocation.
They were driving a stripped-down Ford roadster, and letters in a suitcase they were carrying, aided in getting in communication with relatives and officials and revealing their identity.
The wreckage was first discovered by a Mr. Barton of Gordon, Nebr., who was trucking a load of coal to that city and came upon the wreckage five miles west of Van Tassell about six o'clock a.m., Thursday.
Remains of both victims were laid to rest in the Lusk cemetery Friday afternoon, under direction of the Peet Mortuary. Rev. Edwin F. Irwin, pastor of the Congregational church, officiated in a short service over the graves.
Lusk Free Lance
December 3, 1931
Man, Believed Killed in Auto Crash Near Van Tassell, Very Much Alive; Geo. Lake is Victim
Two weeks ago today, two men were killed about 5 miles west of Van Tassell in an auto accident on Highway No. 20, with the identity of both uncertain at that time. Last week was published in these columns information given out by local authorities that the bodies had been identified and death certificated issued in both cases. The men's names were given as David Gabrielson and John Forsman, both of Red Lodge, Mont., and their remains were placed in graves in the Lusk cemetery with simple services held during the burial ceremony.
Last Friday, officials of Red Lodge who had given the name of Forsman to County Coroner George Earl Peet upon the latter's description of one of the dead men, sent Mr. Peet a message that John Forsman was very much alive in that neighborhood, he having for some time past been employed on a ranch a short distance from that city. He was seen in that town a week after the tragedy occurred and when the officers did see him, they rubbed their eyes, pinched themselves and realized they had made a bad mistake in naming one of the victims of the local accident.
Forsman, who had grown strong and healthy while out picking up spuds on the ranch, was informed of the situation, and he did a bit of squirming, too, to see if he really was alive, and sure enough, he was.
The correction communicated to local officials started Coroner Peet in quest of information regarding the man killed and following a clue found in a pocket of the victim's coat, he received information from Harrington, Kan., that now identifies the body as that of George Lake.
Lake, it is understood, had been selling some liniment or cure for rheumatism, and several medicine bottle labels, along with a letter signed by a user of the medicine in the Harrington country, now establishes without much doubt the identity of the mysterious dead man. Coroner Peet said that his informants are certain it can be none other than Lake, and so a new death certificate has been made out and the one issued with the name of John Forsman on it has been forwarded to the spud picker and he can do with it as he pleases.
Efforts are being made to locate relatives of Lake, although there is little to work on toward that end. It is said by the Harrington man who most recently identified the remains, that Lake has relatives and considerable land holdings in Rhode Island, although nothing as yet has been heard from that state.
Although Mr. Peet gave us the information we passed to our readers last week, we in no way blame him for the mistaken identity, as his information came from Officials who had known Forsman for years. The error rests entirely with the Red Lodge officers.
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