During the evening of April 4, 1925, Patrol Inspectors Joseph P. Riley and William A. Blundell were patrolling in a government-owned car about 1 1/2 miles from Eureka, Montana, when the tie rod broke, causing the automobile to leave the roadway. The vehicle continued over a high bank and then into a ditch and turned over, pinning Patrol Inspector Riley under the steering wheel. Patrol Inspector Blundell was not seriously injured.
Patrol Inspector Riley sustained a fractured cervical vertebra and a spinal cord injury. He was conveyed to the Eureka Hospital which was nearest the scene of the accident. The attending physician advised that Patrol Inspector Riley's condition was so serious that facilities were not available for providing proper attention at Eureka and he recommended moving the patient to Spokane, Washington. On April 5, Patrol Inspector Riley was transported by train to Spokane, where he was placed in the Sacred Heart Hospital. He succumbed at 6 a.m. on April 6, 1925, from respiratory paralysis.