C. Mulford Scull

Speed-Boat Driver Dies at Wheel Bidding for Lead at Mile a Minute

Scull Collapses in Hydroplane During the First Heat of Race at Pleasantville

Started With Outboards in 1917

C. Mulford Scull, Shooting Star, 1952
C. Mulford Scull, Shooting Star, 1952

PLEASANTVILLE, N. J., May 31 [1953] — C. Mulford Scull of Ventnor, N. J., one of the country's best-known speed-boat drivers, collapsed today in the tiny cockpit of his 48-cubic-inch hydroplane Shooting Star while bidding for the lead at nearly a mile-a-minute speed on the second lap of the four-lap initial heat of a race on Lakes Bay. When his craft was overtaken and boarded, Scull was found to be dead.

His wife, Mrs. Ruby Scull, another racing headliner and champion, and their two small daughters, Barbara Jean and Mary Ellen, were among the spectators thronged on the shore.

Scull, gray-haired and past 50, had been a speedboat daredevil since 1917, when he began as an amateur in outboard ranks, later becoming a professional and still later graduating into inboards.

Aided Sport at Ventnor

He was largely responsible for the fleet of speedboat pilots developed in his home town of Ventnor. Scull was a member of one of South Jersey's best-known families, for whom the nearby community of Scullville was named and also an arm of the inland waterway known as Scull's Bay.

Out of respect to the popular pilot, Referee Fred Hahn of Philadelphia and Commodore Joseph W. Bennett Jr. and Race Chairman Les Higbee of the sponsoring Yacht Club of Pleasantville decided to cancel further racing heats.

The tragedy occurred in the first of the inboard events. Scull, crouching over the steering wheel of his rainbow-hued craft, was overtaking Jim Davis of Red Bank, N. J., driving Gene di Falco's newly built Forty-Eighter.

As the fleet tore past the officials' float anchored in front of Oxford Academy, Scull was seen to slump in his driver's scat. With the throttle released, Shooting Star slowed down.

Higbee darted out in a rescue craft and helped transfer Scull to a United States Navy boat from the Atlantic City Naval Air Station and handled by Lieut. Comdr. Charles McAree of the Naval Reserve Training Center.

Two Physicians Respond

Two physicians, Dr. David Latta of Pleasantville and Dr. Sterling Brown of Northfield, went aboard the Navy ship. But injections of adrenalin and use of a resuscitator sent over from a nearby hospital and manned by police failed to revive Scull and after an hour he was pronounced dead of coronary occlusion.

"Mully" and "Ruby" were America's best-known husband-and-wife team of speedboat pilots. In recent years he favored the 48-cubic-inch hydroplanes and she the runabouts. Her Mickey Mouse established a world record last Christmas week at Miami. This spring Mrs. Scull moved upward into the 136-cubic-inch class and until today's regatta was halted she had expected to drive her new Mickey Mouse Too.

In the earlier events for outboards, Ed Shields of Pleasantville won the Class B stock hydroplane event, ahead of Bill Hayden of Avenel, N. J., and Don Riedel of Hasbrouck Heights. John Honan of Deposit was the high point winner in the Class CU event for runabout utilities, beating Dan Barrett of Lusby. Md., and Bill Mitchell of West New York, N. J.

Bill Boerner of North Plainfield, N. J., can tell his grandchildren about a stunt that may never be duplicated. While driving his BU craft No-Mo-Shun over the choppy, rough course he was bounced overboard. With the safety throttle released, No-Mo-Shun made a few slow circles and Boerner was able to swim alongside, climb over the combing, get back into the driver's seat, give her the gas and resume the race.

[Reprinted from New York Times, June 1, 1953]