The 1935 edition of the Course de Côte à Château-Thierry was held on Sunday, 07 April 1935. Rain fell steadily during the day, the first competitor started at 14h00 on the course which passed along the Avenue de Soissons towards the Côte des Chesnaux, at Château-Thierry, Picardie, France.
Almost two hours later, the French driver Joseph "Papa" Cattanéo who had already won the touring-car up to 5000 cm3 class in a Stutz, started his second run at the wheel of a 1.5-litre Bugatti Grand Prix car. It was the 38th vehicle to start the race, following the other Bugattis of Prince Nicolas de Roumanie and Robert Benoist who eventually was the winner.
The race, organized by "L'Echo des Sports", was an arrêté hillclimb, the competitors had to violently brake before the finish-line. Probably due to this particularity, the accident happened. Less than 100 meters to the end of the course, Cattanéo who was traveling at a speed of about 150 km/h braked hard and lost control of his Bugatti. The car skidded on the left side, hit a sidewalk and bounced on the other side, ending against a plane tree. While rolling it crashed backwards into the crowd, involving almost 35 people, causing one of the most regrettable accidents of the 1930s, .
At least seven spectators lost their lives, being Cattanéo himself and other 18 seriously injured. Five spectators were killed at the scene, including a two-years-old girl and two unitendified boys of 12 and 15 years of age. All the injured persons were taken by ambulances to the Hôtel-Dieu de Château-Thierry, two of them succumbed in the following hours. According to different sources the number of deceased persons was eight, possibly one of the injured spectators died days later; this has not yet been confirmed.
The spectators who died instantly were: Albert Brochet, Jacqueline Léglise, aged 2 and her mother M.me Léglise (given name unknown), and the two unknown young boys, who were identified only one day later, when their parents came from the nearby village of Villiers-Saint-Denis looking for them. They were Marcel Picot, 15, and François Roger, 12, who had arrived by bicycle to watch the race. Several hours later M. Delouse succumbed to his injuries and René Vaudé, a butcher from La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, Seine-et-Marne, Île-de-France, passed away at 06h30 the following day. Joseph Cattanéo, who sustained severe back fractures which required a long and painful convalescence until a complete recovery, was transferred to a clinic in Saint-Cloud, Paris. He was in pain for the rest of his life.
After the accident the event was stopped.
|Event||Course de Côte à Château-Thierry|
about 25 unnamed spectators
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