Tifton, GA Auto And Truck Crash, Apr 1975


Tifton, Ga. (AP) - A truck driver faced criminal charges Wednesday after his tractor trailer rig barreled into the rear of a crowded station wagon, killing seven members of the same family.
BYRD LEVARN HUTCHINSON, 38, of Fitzgerald, Ga., was charged with following too closely and driving with an improper license. "Other charges are pending," said state patrol spokesman Bill Wilson.
Hutchinson's truck, laden with produce, plowed into the back of a slow-moving 1961 Chevrolet station wagon carrying nine members of the WOODROW EDWARDS family about 4 a.m. a half mile south of Tifton on Interstate 75.
The impact of the collision caved in the rear of the smaller vehicle and rammed it some 400 feet down the right shoulder, where it crashed into a ditch and burned.
"Five of the seven who died apparently burned to death," said Wilson.
"Investigating officers believe the other two died in the collision."
Killed were EDWARDS, believed in his 50s, of Tryon, N.C.; his wife DELLA EDWARDS, 53; a son, SAMUEL EDWARDS, 40, of Hendersonville, N.C.; a daughter, MARTHA EDWARDS MITCHELL, 32, of Homestead, Fla.; and three of MRS. MITCHELL'S children - CAROLYN, 12; AUDREY, 11; and JOHNNY, 9.
SUSAN MITCHELL, 14, survived multiple injuries and was reported in critical condition at Tift General Hospital.
KEITH EDWARDS, 20, the son of Samuel Edwards, was reported in good condition with only minor injuries. He and Susan were thrown clear, troopers said.
HUTCHINSON suffered minor injuries to his face and back as his tractor trailer spun over onto its side. He was reported in good condition.
The wreck occurred in a relatively straight and level section of highway, Wilson said, and visibility was generally good despite some fog in the area.
He said the station wagon, northbound in the righthand lane, "was believed to be going at a low rate of speed - less than 50 miles per hour."

The Greenville News South Carolina 1975-04-03