Flagstaff, AZ (near) Auto Collision Kills Five, Jul 1959


A coroner's jury yesterday ruled that the deaths of MRS. WANDA WHITE, 23, Caney, Kans., and four passengers riding in her 1951 Oldsmobile Saturday night on East Highway 66 were accidental, after hearing testimony that MRS. WHITE might have been slightly under the influence of alcohol.
MRS. WHITE - who was killed along with three of her four children and the man she was to marry - died instantaneously when her car crashed head-on into a tank truck driven by DWYANE SHIPP, Flagstaff, after sideswiping another car.
The wreck was the worst in the entire state over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Also dead in the accident were:
MRS. WHITE'S three children DAVID ALLEN, 6; MARK ANDREW, 4; and SHARON ELAINE, 6 months, and the man MRS. WHITE was planning to marry as soon as her pending divorce became final, JAMES P. ROBERTS, 28, also of Caney.
A fourth child, MATTHEW EDWIN WHITE, 2, was seriously injured in the accident and was rushed to Flagstaff Hospital. Reports today indicate his condition is considerably improved.
Highway Patrolman Mike Morales, who investigated the accident, testified yesterday that alcohol-blood tests taken on the bodies of the two adults indicated that MRS. WHITE had .08 alcoholic content in her body at the time of the wreck.
Morales said that Arizona law considers .15 to be legally drunk, but that different amounts of alcohol affect different people in differing ways.
He explained that MRS. WHITE could have possibly been under the influence of alcohol, or what she had been drinking could have caused her to be sleepy or fatigued.
Morales told the jury that his investigation revealed the tanker had pushed the WHITE car - a heavy model - 74 feet and five inches eastward down the highway from the point of impact.
He admitted that because of debris from the car-tanker crash it was impossible to tell where MRS. WHITE'S car had sideswiped a Nash being driven by a California man.
"The debris of the second crash entirely wiped out the debris of the other," he said.
Morales estimated that MRS. WHITE'S car was traveling between 40 and 45 miles an hour when the accident occurred.
SHIPP, driver of the truck, testified that he was traveling about 45 or 50 miles an hour when the tragedy occurred and that he only saw a car cross the center line of the highway and come at him.
"I started for shoulder," he said, "and then it hit me."
He testified he also saw the WHITE vehicle hit the Nash, but could not say exactly at what point that collision occurred.
Virgil White, Caney, Kan., identified the bodies of his estranged wife and their children for the jury, but said he could not identify the body assumed to be ROBERTS.
Dr. Charles W. Sechrist, local physician, said his examination of the bodies revealed that death had been instant in all cases.

Arizona Daily Sun Flagstaff 1959-07-08