THADDEUS KERNS FALLS TO DEATH
WITHIN 300 YARDS OF HIS HOME
Propellor Breaks, Tearing
Planes and Kerns Is
The radiator of the engine struck Kerns on the upper jaw, tearing his entire face and head away, leaving nothing but the base of the skull and his scalp. Every bone in his body was broken,
The First Machine in Which He Flew
According to Dr. N. T. Enloe his chest was caved in, a great hole torn in his
right side, two pieces of iron pierced his body above the kidneys, both arms were baroken in many places, and
the limbs were mangled to a pulp.
Mechanician's Narrow Escape
Arthur Smith, mechanician of Kerns , gave the best account of the accident to The Enterprise this morning. He said in substance that he and Kerns had just returned from Emporia, Kan., where a number of thrilling and succdessful flights have been made in the plane which
extricate himself. The seat upon
which he sat while piloting the aircraft was broken into small pieces, even the cane
in the bottom being rent as if cut with a knife.
"I was shocked when I saw his body," said Dr. Enloe. "I never saw a worse mutilated body during my experience as a phusician. The radiator struck him and tore his head from the body. Kerns bult a pair of gliders and in company with a number of school companions often went to the foothills and jumped from steep places, using the gliders to lower
ground out the life of his employer in the tragedy of last evening.
"The plane was assembled and ready for flight shortly after noon yesterday," said Smith. "The wind was strong during the early part of the day had Kerns decided to wait until evening before he attempted to test the machine. I contemplated going up with him, but for some reason did not make the trip."
Adjustment Was Perfect.
"So far as I knew the engine and plane were in as good conditiion as usual. The adjustment was perfect in every particular. He started his trial flight perhaps 100 feet from where his machine dived into the earth and killed him. I saw it all. He reached a height of 1000 feet when he started toward the foothills. He turned back and went westward and I thought crossed the Sacramento river. He returned, gradually lowering his height until he was over his home. He was coasting when the lower spar wing broke in two. I saw him trying to adjust the machine.
"He was trying to coast and land near a tree where I was standing waiting for him. When over the Shasta road the piece of timber broke in two. The planes sagged and the propeller ripped the canvas. The machine dived straight downward.
Machine Total Wreck
The machine was a total wreck. The canvas was torn to shreds and so far as could be seen every stay and piece of iron was bent or broken. The engine was intact, but the gasoline tank and radiator were demolished. Every bone was broken. He died instantly, never knowing what happened."
According to Smith, Kerns was probably 75 feet in the air when his machine collapsed. He fell no greater distance that between 40 and 50 feet.
The aviator was tied into his seat with a rope and was unable to
him. In this manner he
injured himself in the air. later he built a crude aeroplane with an engine of such small horsepower that he
was unable to do more than just get off the ground. His father, B. S. Kerns, prominent property owner near
Chico, residing on the Shasta road, acceded to his son's request and aided him at an enormous expenses in
constructing a high-class machine with a powerful engine. This was the machine in which the youth was killed
Parent Objected to Flying
The boy's father realized the dangers of the life of an aviator and often pleaded with his son to enter into a business life. He offered him thousands of dollars to leave aviation, but the call of the air was too strong and young Kerns kept on, making a decided success and entering the field of professional aviation.
Kerns was formerly a student in the Chico High school. An incident in school life took place yesterday morning which caused many of the young friends and schoolmates of the dead youth to make comment today. During the morning hours of Professor C. B. Whitmoyer's summer school, now being held in the High school, one of the students was asked to define the word "fly."
"Few High school students fly," said Whitmoyer, "Kerns is the only one so far to fly."
James Smith was killed in Kerns' machine in November, 1911, near Palo Alto. Kerns did not tell his parents of the accident for fear it would worry them and cause them to persuade him for their sake to abandon aviation.
Intended to Quit
The young man promised his parents that he would soon regard their wishes and leave aviation. He fixed a date for discontinuing flights and so far as could be learned was to have made his last
flight at the close of 1913. His mother, who was prostrated last night after news of her son's death,
suffered most and importuned her boy to enter some other field of endeavor. She aged and worried
Mother Sees Flight
Kerns was one of the anxious spectators last evening when her son was making one of the best flights of his career. She stood on the veranda of the Kerns home and watched him soar over the great grain fields. When the mainstay of the machine snapped and she saw her son struggling in the air, she went within her home and there collapsed. This morning Mrs. Kerns was reconciled to the inevitable, although grief-stricken over the sad but not unusual end to all who fly for any extended period.
B. S. Kerns and his sons and daughters were absent at the time of the accident.
An inquest will be held in the parlors of Fetters & Williams at 7 o'clock tonight.
The deceased was born in Santa Ana, Southern California, June 5, 1894, and was 19 years of age on his last birthday. He had resided in Chico twelve years. The body was removed last evening to the funeral chapel of Bicknell & Moore. The date of the funeral had not been fixed late today.
Besides the father and mother there survive three sisters and five brothers. They are Ben, George and James, living near Klamath Falls, Ore.: Sam and John, living at Cassell, Shasta county: Edna, Beulah and Ruth, living in Chico. The brothers are expected home this evening, with the father, who has been in Shasta counaty on business.
Kerns Start as Airman
Young Kerns started to fly five years ago, while a student in the Chico High school. He obtained his first book of instruction from Frank Bevan, formerly of the Crew Drug company, but now in business in Marysville.