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 Judson D. Cornwall, Sergeant

Judson D. Cornwall

Saturday, July 10, 1926



Cornwall, Judson D.

Rank: Sergeant

Serial Number: Unknown

Division: Unknown

Location: Soto Blvd / Mission Rd (Multnomah
Elementary School)

Date Killed: Sunday, July 10, 1926

Cause of Death: Traffic Accident

Bio: Early July 1926, had been relatively cool in
Los Angeles, with evening temperatures dropping into the low 60's.
The Fourth of July celebration at the Los Angeles Coliseum had seen
thousands of Angelenos flock to a fireworks event, five months in
the planning. Cowboy actor Tom Mix had re-enacted the ride of Paul
Revere, on his horse Tony. Silent film actress and beauty Viola
Dana also appeared as a celebrity guest, much to the delight of the
many young men at the event. The city's population continued to
grow at breakneck speed with its numbers growing to 1.26 million
people.

The Los Angeles Police Department meanwhile was in the throes of
significant change with newly appointed chief James E. Davis having
taken the helm following the retirement of his predecessor, R. Lee
Heath. Due to

budgetary constraints, the Department's mounted unit was disbanded,
with questions arising over what to do with the idled horses.
However, the Department's motor section was thriving at fifty
officers strong, while comprised of four separate squads. The
motors' primary enforcement responsibility then as now was traffic
enforcement.

On July 10, 1926, Sergeant Judson D. Cornwall, was assigned a
special detail at Lincoln Heights Legion Ascot Speedway, which was
located just east of today's Soto Boulevard and Mission Road.
Sergeant Judd Cornwall was 52 years old and assigned to the Lincoln
Heights Division when tragedy struck at exactly 9:30 pm and he was
killed alerting people of a fatal crash on the speedway's oval
track.

Judson Dwight Cornwall was born on March 16, 1876 in Middleton,
Ontario, Canada, to Daniel Cornwall and his wife, Adeline. By 1891,
the Cornwall family lived in Elgin West, Ontario, Canada. Judson
"Judd" Cornwall was one of six brothers born to couple. On December
13, 1898, Judson married Nellie Maude Scandrett in St. Thomas,
Ontario. The couple would soon venture west, living briefly in
Ohio, before continuing west, where they eventually settled in Los
Angeles with their two daughters Adeline and Charlotte. The
couple's third daughter, Nellie, was born in Los Angeles around
1906.

On October 30, 1906, Judson D. Cornwall joined the ranks of the Los
Angeles Police Department. He was assigned to work the old Eastside
Station, which was located at 419 North Avenue 19, just south of
the old Lincoln Heights jail. On October 28, 1914, Judson Cornwell
was one of several dozen officers who successfully passed the
sergeant's exam. He was appointed sergeant soon after.

The Cornwall family lived at 2166 East 11th Street, before moving
to 3816 Eastside Boulevard, in today's East Los Angeles, near the
residence of Judd's older brother, Ainsley Cornwall, a Los Angeles
Fire Department fireman. The family eventually settled at 123 West
Avenue 42, where they lived until Judd's untimely death.

The Ascot Speedway opened January 20, 1924 and was a 5/8 mile
banked oval track. Its precise location is now occupied by the
Multnomah Elementary School. The original dirt track had been
hardened by the constant applications of oil coating, which
produced an asphalt like surface. The racecars were an early
version of today's sprint cars. The track was known for its
harrowing crashes which resulted in the deaths of some two dozen
drivers during its twelve year existence. Competition races were
held under the lights on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. The races
often paid hundreds of dollars, a pretty sum in the 1920's.

Days prior to the July 10, 1926 event, race organizer George R.
Benitel had arranged for ushers, parking security and a police
detail for inside the track. At least two law enforcement officers
including Sergeant Cornwall were assigned to the detail. In the
days preceding the race, Benitel had invited the public and drivers
to witness the power of the new lighting technology.

The races commenced on the early evening of July 10, 1926, under
the power of the 12 million candle light. Celebrities such as Clark
Gable, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Bing Crosby often were in
attendance at the exciting events. On one of the turns racer Jack
Peticord skidded high into the embankment, causing him to lock
wheels with racer Bill Bundy. Their fast moving vehicles slipped
sideways and could not gain traction, skidding into the car of Nick
Gugliemi, crushing it and killing Gugliemi.

Sergeant Cornwall witnessed the onset of the crash and alerted
those in its path to the approaching danger. However, the two
skidding racecars closed in on him quickly before Cornwall could
escape danger. Sergeant Judson D. Cornwall was struck and killed by
the two motor cars. Several other bystanders were struck but
survived, including a Los Angeles County deputy. Sergeant
Cornwall's watch was frozen in time marking his hour of death at
exactly 9:30pm. At the time of his time, Sergeant Cornwall would
have been eligible for retirement in three months.

Sergeant Cornwall was survived by his wife Nellie and three
daughters: Adeline, Charlotte and Nellie. The services for Sergeant
Cornwall were held on Monday, July 18, 1926 at Cresses' Chapel. He
was buried at Grand View Memorial Park in Glendale,
California.

"font-weight: bold;">Lieutenant J. A. Macias
27710


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