A Valentine’s tragedy | ParkRecord.com

A Valentine’s tragedy

Fatal accident occurred on Main Street

Dalton Gackle
Park City Museum
The Egyptian Theatre marquee hangs over the sidewalk at the right of the photograph, taken in January 1949. Snow is visible on top of the marquee.
Park City Historical Society & Museum, Kendall Webb Collection

Charles “Chuck” Lloyd purchased the Egyptian Theatre in 1948 from John and Eliza Rugar, though there were reports of another man buying the theater. Charles ran the theater and employed his son to help him, along with his son’s friends, like Robert Welch and Lamar Sproule.

The tasks were plentiful. Some of them, like changing the reels, were fairly exciting for the boys to take care of.

One of Robert and Lamar’s jobs was to shovel snow off of the Egyptian’s marquee. In those days, the marquee hung well over the sidewalk into the street and collected a lot of snow. If the snow was not shoveled off, it would damage the sign, or even bring it to the ground if it got too heavy. When snow melted, it could run back toward the building and into the theater, so it needed to be kept clear.

The shoveling task was a two-man job. One of the boys would toss shovelfuls of snow out into the street where it would later be taken away by plow. The other boy would watch for cars coming by so the shoveler wouldn’t throw a blob of snow onto a car.

Tragedy struck the shoveling duo on Valentine’s Day, 1955.

Running above the marquee and connecting to the theater was a high-tension power line, which Robert and Lamar ducked past as they shoveled. On Monday, Feb.14, 1955, Lamar was shoveling while Robert had watch below.

Robert recalled, with tears in his eyes, what happened next in a 2019 oral history: “It was my turn to watch for cars, so we didn’t throw snow on top of [them]. I heard a noise and turned around and looked and [Lamar] was lying on his back. The power was just jumpin’. I guess he had hit [the power line] with his shovel and reached out and grabbed it to stop it. It electrocuted him. It killed him right there.”

First responders arrived, and a physician tried to resuscitate Lamar to no avail. He was 17 years old. Robert lost one of his best friends and Lamar’s parents, Emmett and Irma, lost a son.

Emmett and Irma Sproule sued Park City (presumably for negligence) for $25,000 that December. The outcome of that lawsuit was not reported in The Park Record. One year after his death, his parents placed an In Memorium in the paper with the following poem expressing their love:

The flowers we’ve laid upon your grave may wither and decay/ But our love for you, who sleeps beneath, will never fade away/ Our hearts still ache with loneliness, our eyes shed many a tear/ God alone knows how we miss you at the end of this first year/ No morning dawns no night returns, but that we think of you/ Those left behind are very dear, but none replaces you.

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