I was sent an email today with a bunch of "coincidences," many of which are probably false. This one stood out since it has a year and an age (some specifics), so perhaps it has the chance of being looked in to:

Did you know? In 1975 a 17 year old boy was killed while riding his moped. He was killed exactly a year after his 17 year old brother was killed while riding the same moped, in the same intersection, by the same taxi, with the same driver, carrying the same passenger.

Seems far fetched, so I Googled it. It's making its appearances on about.com, the Snopes message boards, and many other websites. The source cited in each case is a book called Phenomena. A Book of Wonders by John Michell & Robert J. M. Rickard.

There's no preview on Amazon and I didn't get any Google image hits for various search strategies (I was hoping to see the actual page with the story).

Is there evidence to suggest this was a real occurrence (aside from it being said to exist in a book)?

  • According to google maps, there is a place named Hog Bay in Bermuda, a very short distance from Middle Road. Following Middle Road about 4km north where it changes its name to Somerset Road gets you to a place named "Sandys"; all at the most western part of the island. So the place names are not made up. And with a population of only about 60,000, it is not that unlikely that the same taxi driver would be involved in two accidents. – gnasher729 May 7 '14 at 16:59
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    This question has definately piqued my interest. It doesn;t fit the usual MO of an urban legend (names, real identifiable places in the area specified, dates etc). It is also, on the face of it, easy to proove or disproove based on the fact that deaths are public record and a death of this nature would surely be identifiable (RTA usually involves death by blunt trauma, for example). To that end I have emailed the Bermuda department responsible for births/deaths - lets see what kind of response I get – Jamiec May 7 '14 at 18:48
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    You will also notice something else when looking on the map: Middle Road is part of a long Road that stretches over all islands, it's easy to imagine that the majority of accidents happen on this road. – Twinkles May 7 '14 at 20:10
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    Sadly the Bermudan government want $55 to search their death records - even though I provided exact names and dates of death :( – Jamiec May 8 '14 at 10:02
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    Something that contradicts the theory: why wasn't the license of the taxi driver confiscated and cancelled after the first accident? How come he was still driving? – user28937 Sep 14 '15 at 0:02

An article on cracked.com about coincidences includes a newspaper clip taken from the The Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph on July 21, 1975:

Newspaper article

Twin tragedy

Erskine Lawrence Ebbin was knocked down by a taxi and killed in Hamilton, Bermuda — and it was the same taxi with the same driver, carrying the same passanger, that killed his brother Neville in July last year.

And both brothers were riding the same moped and died, aged 17, on the same street, police said.

It is remarkable in that it includes the full name of both brothers (Erskine Lawrence and Neville Ebbin) and the city in which it allegedly happened (Hamilton, Bermuda). This means it should be possible to verify the events by checking official records.

It is still possible that the whole story was made up to fill empty space on the page (notice that the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph is published in the United Kingdom, while the accident is supposed to have happened on Bermuda, difficult to verify for a reader in 1975.)

Based on this, the accident might have happened — unlikely does not mean impossible — but there is no conclusive proof.

However, the Royal Gazette has even more names and the location of the accident:

Reader’s Digest reprints story of 1975 road deaths

A bizarre tragedy reported in The Royal Gazette more than 35 years ago has resurfaced in the pages of this month’s Reader’s Digest.

The July 21, 1975 issue of the newspaper carried a front page lead headlined, ‘Incredible coincidence in road crash deaths’.

The same story appears in the current Reader’s Digest compilation entitled ‘What Are The Odds?’

In an account that has circulated in publications and on the internet ever since, The Royal Gazette reports: “Erskine Ebbin and his brother Neville were killed almost exactly a year apart after being involved in collision with the same taxi, driven by the same driver and carrying the same passenger.”

Both victims were 17, and both were riding the same auxiliary cycle on the same road.

Erskine was killed on the night of July 18, 1975, near the Packwood Home in Sandys; Neville died on July 30, 1974, on the nearby stretch of Middle Road known as Hog Bay Level.

Both were reported to have collided with a taxi driven by Willard Manders.

According to their father, John Henry Ebbin of Woodlawn Road, Sandys, even the passenger in the taxi was the same in both instances.

Now that we have a source from Bermuda itself and a lot of verifiable data I tend to believe that it did indeed happen, though “at the same intersection” and “exactly a year apart” are exaggerations.

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    Bermuda registered births/deaths in 1975. In fact the law requiring registration was dated 1949 so if the boys were aged 17 at death, then their birth and death would have been recorded. Could be possible to dig out of public records. – Jamiec May 7 '14 at 10:48
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    I checked the Bermuda newspapers from July/early August 1974 and there's no mention of a boy killed in a traffic accident. I also checked those from July 1975, but unfortunately the newspaper got discontinued exactly during mid-July 1975. – drat May 7 '14 at 12:19
  • Cracked claimed to have verified it: "Before we go any further, please know that Cracked had to check with several overseas libraries and even the Library of Congress to verify this report." – Oddthinking May 7 '14 at 13:19
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    ...and the best they could find was an article from a british newspaper published in a town of 72.000 residents. (No offense to Scunthorpians) – Twinkles May 7 '14 at 13:26
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    Also, using real locations is not that convincing to me, either (for better or worse). If Cracked went through all the trouble to verify this, it would have been nice to have something like email transcripts, more photocopies, an explanation of how it was verified, etc. We have essentially the same story repeated with slightly better details. Could one have borrowed from another? – Hendy Jun 1 '14 at 1:06

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protected by Sklivvz Sep 14 '15 at 8:45

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