July 16, 1981

July16On this day in 1981, Harry Chapin died in a motor accident after being struck by a truck.

Chapin was an American musician who was best known for his song, ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’.

Chapin was driving on the Long Island Expressway, in the left-hand fast lane, at about 65 miles an hour. Witnesses saw Chapin’s car put on its emergency flashers near an exit in Jericho, N.Y. The car then slowed and veered into the centre lane, nearly hitting another vehicle. It was then seen swerving back and forth until the car drove directly in front of a tractor-trailer truck. The truck was unable to brake in time and smashed into Chapin’s blue 1975 VW Rabbit, rupturing the gas tank which caused the vehicle to burst into flames.

The driver of the truck and another passerby were able to pull Chapin out of the burning car through the window by cutting his seat-belt before the car was completely engulfed.

Chapin was then taken by helicopter to the hospital where ten doctors tried for 30 minutes to revive him. A spokesman for the Nassau County Medical Center said that Harry had suffered a massive heart attack and “died of cardiac arrest”, but there was no way of knowing whether it occurred before or after the accident.

The only means of identification on Harry was a gold pocket watch, but police were later able to make identification through a license plate check.

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