The automobile as a revolutionary technology came to the stage in 18th century with the establishment of steam-power machines capable to carry humans. But the benefits of mobility were accompanied by dramatic new risks. You might think that the first car crash was after Karl Benz built his famous Patent Motorwagen in 1886, but in fact the first recognized car accident was the death of the scientist Mary Ward on August 31st in 1869, in the City of Birr in Ireland. On that day, Mary and three companions were having a trip on a steam powered carriage. While in motion, the carriage hit a bump, throwing Mary from her seat and into the path of one of the carriage’s wheels where she was crushed.
Mary’s death was reported the next day in the King’s County Chronicle and a formal investigation was held to discover the cause of death and whether anyone was at fault. In the end, the jury decided that Ward’s death was nothing more than a awful accident, though the reason for the carriage suddenly throwing Mary to the ground was never discovered.