Dash Into the Seine: Pitiful Fate of Two Children-Motor Driver’s Blunder

From the Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume LXV, Issue 11699, 20 June 1913, Page 2 Retrieved from the National Library of New Zealand

The two little children of Mme. Isadora Duncan, the famous classical dancer, perished with their nurse, a young Scotch woman, in a terribly dramatic motor car accident in Paris.  The infants were only four (not true) and six years of age respectively.

The nurse, whose name was Annie Sims, was taking the little ones for a drive to Versailles.  The car had only just left Mme. Duncan’s house in the Rue de Chauveau at Neuilly, when at the corner of the Quai Bourbon, a taxi-cab barred the chauffeur’s way.  The chauffeur, a man named Morverand, jammed on his brakes and stopped suddenly.  This caused the engine also to stop.  Morverand got down to start it again.  As soon as he turned the starting lever the car bounded forward towards the river.  Morverand lost his head, and the hesitation of a second was sufficient for the tragedy.  The car dashed down the river bank and plunged into the Seine, which is 30 feet deep at this spot.

The chauffeur gesticulated and called for help, but a torrential downpour was falling at the time, and there were few about.  A young woman, (identity to be discovered) who had seen the car leave the gate of Isadora Duncan’s house, which was only a short distance away, ran back and gave the alarm (to whom?).  The brother of Mme. Duncan ran out and meeting the chauffeur on the bank, seized him by the throat and knocked him down (how did it happen that Raymond was at Isadora’s house that morning?).

A crowd of persons gathered, and efforts were made at rescue.  But there were no means at hand, and it was impossible even to locate the sunken car.  Boatsmen were quickly on the spot, and with their oars tried in vain to discover where it had sunk.  It was not till more than an hour afterwards, when all hopes of saving the three persons inside had vanished, that the car was discovered by means of a motor boat, which had been dragging the river.  It was hauled to the surface, and the three bodies were found inside.  The first to be taken out was that of the nurse, then the little boy Patrick and his sister Deirdre.  One of the children, it was thought, still showed signs of life.

All the bodies were hurriedly taken to a room in a cafe, and efforts were made by two doctors (names?) to restore them, if possible, to life.  But their efforts were in vain.  The three bodies has been too long under water.

The house of Isadora Duncan is only a short distance from the Seine.  It was in vain that hopes were held out to her at first that the children could be saved.  Her  grief was terrible to behold.

The chauffeur had meanwhile gone to the police commissary to give himself up.  He said he could not understand how the accident happened.  He was sure that he had shut off the contact when he stepped out of the car to set the motor going.

The tragedy has aroused the sympathy of all of  Paris.  Mme. Isadora Duncan’s name has been associated for years with the artistic revival of all that is graceful and fascinating in ancient Greek dances.  She has founded a tradition and style of her own, and there are few in Paris who have not seen and admired her.  Only two nights before she charmed a large house full of spectators at the Chaletet by her beautiful reconstruction of one of the Greek dances of Victory, in which she lead a procession of children trained by herself.  She was asked only a few days before to create a dance to Chopin’s “Funeral March,” and refused to do so because she said it would be a “bad omen.”  (There are several other stories about this piece of music at this time)  Yet, in spite of this presentiment, the blow has fallen.