In Manhattan on a lecture tour, the British statesman was late for a meeting with his friend, financier Bernard Baruch. Stepping into 76th Street, he made a potentially fatal mistake: He didn’t look both ways to see if a car was coming.
Unfortunately one was. The car dragged Churchill and then left him in the street.
The accident scored him eight days in Lenox Hill Hospital with a gash to the head, among other injuries (they gave him a prescription for medicinal alcohol—it was Prohibition, after all).
Churchill admitted the accident was his fault and arranged to meet the driver of the car that hit him, a jobless immigrant named Mario Contasino.
“Mrs. Churchill, hearing of the ill fortune of Contasino in his quest for work, suggested her readiness to help him financially. But when a member of the party proffered a check Mr. Contasino declined it,” wrote The New York Times.
Churchill’s injuries weren’t life-threatening, obviously.
But if he was killed on Fifth Avenue, and didn’t return to England to serve as prime minister during World War II, perhaps history would have taken a different course?