Memorial to James G. Helm

End of Watch: February 11, 1928
Rank: Officer, Badge No. N/A
Years of Service: 5 years
Age: 43
Location of Death: Bladensburg Road, NE

 

Circumstance:

Motorman Helm was fatally injured when his motorcycle collided with a truck carrying moonshine ingredients. Racing at breakneck speed in pursuit of a suspected rum car, Policeman James G. Helm of the Twelfth Precinct was critically injured when his motorcycle crashed into a large truck heavily laden with corn meal, yeast, sugar and coal on the Bladensburg Road at 30th Street, NE

Biography:

Motor Patrol Officer Helm was assigned to the Twelfth Precinct and had been a Metropolitan Police Officer for five years. He was married to Lillian Helm and had two children, Margaret, 8, and Doris, 12 years old.

 

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
THE DEATH OF JAMES G. HELM
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 7, 1928, PAGE 1
POLICEMAN NEAR DEATH AFTER RUM CHASE CRASH.
Racing at breakneck speed in pursuit of a suspected rum car, Policeman James G. Helm, of the Twelfth Precinct was critically injured last night when his motorcycle crashed into a large truck heavily laden with corn meal, yeast, sugar and coal in the Bladensburg road at 30th Street, NE.

Helm, father of two small children, is in Casualty Hospital suffering from a compound fracture of his jaw, concussion of the brain, a possible fracture of the skull and severe lacerations of the neck and legs. He has only a slight chance to recover, physicians said.

Lawrence Moreland, 19 years old, 2814 Evarts Street, NE, driver of the truck is being held under police guard at Casualty Hospital, pending the outcome of Helm’s injuries. He is suffering internal injuries received in the crash. Charles Andrews, 20 years old, of Baltimore, Md., a passenger on the truck, is being held at the Twelfth Precinct on a charge of investigation.

According to police, Helm was speeding south on the Bladensburg Road a short distance behind the suspected rum car. The truck was moving north on Bladensburg Road. At the intersection of 30th Street after the rum car had passed, the truck swung across the road, blocking Helm’s path, police reported.

He was unable to stop his speeding motorcycle and crashed into the right side of the truck. Moreland was thrown from his seat. The truck was badly damaged and the motorcycle was demolished. The truck is owned, police reported, by William Plummer, 2814 Evarts Street, NE.

Five minutes before the accident occurred Helm was at Bladensburg Road and South Dakota Avenue talking to Harry Tosten, 3848 30th Street, NE. While they were talking, Tosten said a high-powered touring car swept by. Jumping on his motorcycle Helm said, “There goes a rum runner and I’m going to get him,” according Tosten.

Both Moreland and Andrews told police that they did not see the policeman until after the crash. Helm and Moreland were taken to the hospital in a passing automobile. Maj. Edwin B. Hesse, superintendent of police arrived at the hospital shortly after Helm was brought there and ordered an immediate investigation of the accident. He praised Helm’s ability as a policeman.

Helm was appointed to the police force in 1919. He has been patrolling the Bladensburg road for the past several years and has captured a number of rum runners after thrilling chases. He lives in Mount Rainier, Md.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 12, 1928, PAGE M2
COLLISION IS FATAL TO MOTOR POLICEMAN.
HELM, OF TWELFTH PRECINCT, NEVER REGAINED CONSCIOUSNESS
FROM TRUCK CRASH.
Motorcycle Policeman James G. Helm, 43 years old, of the Twelfth Precinct, who was injured Monday night when his motorcycle collided with a truck on the Bladensburg Road, died at Casualty Hospital yesterday. He never regained consciousness.

Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Lillian Helm, and two children, Margaret, 8, and Doris, 12 years old. They reside at 3961 29th Street, Mount Rainier, Md.

Lawrence Moreland, 19 years old, 2814 Evarts Street, NE, driver of the truck, and Charles Andrews, 20, his companion, of the same address, were both arrested following the accident and were released on bond. The vehicle which Helm’s machine collided with is said to have been loaded with corn meal, sugar and yeast, hops and coal.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED FEBRUARY 14, 1928, PAGE 10
POLICEMAN’S DEATH IS HELD ACCIDENTAL.
Investigating the death of Motorcycle Policeman James G. Helm, of the Twelfth Precinct, whose skull was fractured when his motorcycle collided with a truck driven by Lawrence Moreland at the intersection of Bladensburg road and Thirtieth street northeast, February 6, a coroner’s jury yesterday decided the accident was unavoidable and absolved the truck driver of responsibility.

Helm was fatally injured when he took up the pursuit of a suspected rum runner. His motorcycle crashed into the light truck driven by Moreland when the latter attempted to turn into 30th Street.

 

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(APPARENTLY MORELAND AND ANDREWS WERE NOT CHARGED WITH POSSESSION OR TRANSPORTING MOONSHINE INGREDIENTS; OR ASSOCIATED WITH THE OCCUPANTS OF THE SPEEDING RUM RUNNER’S CAR.

MORELAND WAS IMPLICATED IN THE MURDER OF A GROCER TWO YEARS LATER. THE GROCER’S THROAT HAD BEEN SLASHED FROM EAR TO EAR AND ROBBED OF $500.00. HE MAY HAVE BEEN MORELAND’S SOURCE FOR HIS MOONSHINE INGREDIENTS. THE RESULTS OF THAT INVESTIGATION WERE NOT FOUND.)