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Henry H. Bliss

First person killed in a motor vehicle accident in the us
The basics
AKA Henry Hale Bliss
Date of birth
Date of death Sep 13, 1899 New York City, New York, U.S.A.
The details

The death of Henry H. Bliss (June 13, 1830 – September 14, 1899) was the first recorded case of a person being killed by a motor vehicle accident in America.

Automobile crash

On September 13, 1899, Henry Hale Bliss was disembarking from a streetcar at West 74th Street and Central Park West in New York City, when an electric-powered taxicab (Automobile No. 43) struck him and crushed his head and chest. He died from his injuries the next morning.

Arthur Smith, the driver of the taxicab, was arrested and charged with manslaughter but was acquitted on the grounds that he had no malice, nor was he negligent.

The passenger, Dr. David Edson, was the son of former New York City mayor Franklin Edson.


A plaque was dedicated at the site on September 13, 1999, to commemorate the centenary of this event. It reads:

The ceremony was attended by his great-granddaughter, who placed roses on the place where Bliss was struck.


Bliss's stepdaughter, Mary Alice Altmont Livingston, who assumed the surname "Fleming", was tried for the murder of her mother, Bliss's ex-wife, Evelina Bliss, by means of poisoned chowder. She was found innocent.

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