Death of Ray Tenney

Buckhannon Delta
September 27, 1928

Ray Tenney Killed in Bridge Collapse

Ray A. Tenney, of this city, driver of the Standard Oil Company's gasoline tank truck, was instantly killed Wednesday afternoon, when his truck broke through the old covered bridge across French Creek between Hampton and Sago.

He had filled the truck with gasoline and started on the trip to Sago. He discharged part of the gasoline at the Upco Inn, above town, and was about half way across the bridge when the middle section, 21 feet long, gave way. An eye-witness of the tragedy said that the rear end of the truck went down first, and the truck turned over backwards, landing upside down in French Creek. Tenney never had a chance to let go of the wheel, being pinned beneath the truck, with his head and shoulders in the waters of the creek. It took twenty-five men to life [sic] the truck high enough to remove the body from the wreck.

Mr. Tenney's neck was broken in two places, and he was otherwise injured. Death was instantaneous.

As soon as the word was phoned to Buckhannon, officers and others sped to the scene, six miles from Buckhannon. The body was taken to the Whitescarver undertaking rooms, in this city, where an inquest will be held this morning.

Tenney, who was 25 years old, had been driving the gasoline truck for several years, and had made many trips across the bridge with the truck. The bridge was on [sic] old covered structure, built about sixty years ago, and, while it was never designed to carry such loads as the motorized traffic had created, it had never been officially pronounced unsafe.

Ray Tenney was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Alva B. Tenney, of South Buckhannon, and was born and reared at Alton, this county. Several years ago he was married to Miss Mabel House who, with an infant son, survive him. Other relatives, besides his parents, and two brothers and one sister, all of this city city [sic]. They are Jay and Phay and Miss Lulu. The funeral arrangements are as yet incomplete, but the services will probably be held Friday afternoon.

Ray Tenney was a good, industrious boy, with a wide acquaintance all over the county. He will be greatly missed.

This accident should serve as a warning to motorists that many of the small bridges on district roads are not designed to carry heavy traffic. The county court should at once proceed to take safety steps by plainly marking the capacity load of each bridge. We know nothing of the legal liability of the county for such accidents, but it is likely that the case will be threshed out in the circuit and supreme courts.


West Virginia Archives and History