Train Strikes Sergeant Gannon
On August 2, 1894, Sergeant Michael Gannon was walking across the Ewing Rail Yard to meet with Officer McHale. As Sgt. Gannon was crossing the tracks, a Union Pacific train was coming down the tracks. Officer McHale signalled feverishly to Sgt. Gannon, who didn’t understand the signal. The train struck Sgt. Gannon and threw him over 60 feet.
Despite the impact, Sgt. Gannon was still alive. He was taken to his home at 328 South Garrison Avenue. Doctors knew his internal injuries made survival impossible. Gannon died a day later from the accident. Sgt. Gannon had only been a Sergeant for a few months.
When I first read about Sgt. Gannon’s death in The Line of Duty: St. Louis Police Officers Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice, I suspected suicide because the original edition said his wife died at the same spot 11 years earlier. However, it was a different Officer Michael Gannon’s wife, who was killed at the spot.
Sgt. Gannon’s wife Catherine was very much alive and now widowed due to the accident. After settling his estate, Mrs. Gannon expected to receive Sgt. Gannon’s pension, which was normal in line of duty deaths. However, in October 1894, the St. Louis City Counselor ruled since a train caused his death, Mrs. Gannon was not entitled to his pension.
The House of Delegates saw the injustice in the ruling and took up a bill to give her $1,000 for relief. However, the bill didn’t pass. Hopefully, the Police Relief Fund helped Mrs. Gannon.
Cars, buses, streetcars and trains have proved just as dangerous to police officers as guns and knives. Mrs. Gannon should not have been discriminated against because her husband was killed by a train instead of a bullet.
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Sources: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 3, 1894 edition, p. 5, August 4, 1894 edition, p. 1, August 5, 1894 edition, p. 12, October 18, 1894 edition, p. 1 and December 15, 1894, p. 4.