Mischievous Tots Trampled by Trolley

On December 20, 1919, a ten-year-old boy suffered life-threatening injuries after his attempts at “trolley hopping”.

In the early 1900s, the street car lines were how the majority of New Orleans citizens travelled through the city. This is partially due to the fact that busses had not been introduced yet and cars were still too expensive for most of the population, leaving the trolley as many peoples only form of transportation.

Image of a 1919 streetcar traveling down the 100 block of North Rampart Street. Although this is not the exact location of the incident, it provides a depiction of what a 1919 trolley looked like (Louisiana Digital Library).

This article tells the story of ten-year-old Edward Metza. He was “mangled” by a Laurel street car and rushed to Charity Hospital, but ended up passing away. Ten-year-old Frank Zeller and another young boy (unnamed) experienced similar run-ins with the dangers of street cars. However, these two survived the incidents and only suffered leg injuries/amputation. All three boys were believed to have gotten their injuries from attempting to hop onto the vehicle while it was in motion. 

A witness of the event, V. M. Cavanaugh, urged the New Orleans Railway and Light Company to invest in what would soon become the modern ambulance. He wanted to see properly equipped motor trucks at various locations around the city in order to reduce casualties/serious injuries from these kinds of sudden accidents. Cavanaugh wanted the city to be able to respond to these incidents with much more speed than they had been. 

A map of the 1916 Napoleon Avenue streetcar line is pictured above. Although this is not the exact area mentioned in the article, it depicts what a map of the trolley routes would have looked like around this time.

According to the city of New Orleans website, the average response time for the Ambulance Service was 28 minutes in 1907. This shows that while emergency vehicles existed during this period, they were not nearly as effective. The NOPD took over Emergency Medical services in 1947, bringing in an era of more efficient management of these vehicles and the workers within them. Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training did not become available in New Orleans until the 1960s.


“100 Block of North Rampart Street,” Louisiana Digital Library, accessed December 3, 2019, https://louisianadigitallibrary.org/islandora/object/hnoc-p15140coll1:1002.

“EMS – About Us – History,” City of New Orleans, accessed December 3, 2019, https://www.nola.gov/ems/about-us/history/.

“1916 Metairie Streetcar,” accessed December 3, 2019, http://websitesneworleans.com/neworleansmaps/id133.html.

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