Chester, IL Automobile Accident, June 1971



Search operations have been called off for five young Chester girls missing since Friday when a station wagon carrying one woman and nine girls plunged into the Mississippi River at Chester.
Three persons survived the accident. The bodies of two girls were recovered from the station wagon about 9:30 p.m. Friday.
Law enforcement officials were waiting Saturday for the river to yield the bodies.
Diving operations were halted because the river water is so muddy, according to Chester police.
Survivors of the accident are MRS. FERN CLARK, 30, driver of the station wagon; TAMORAH CANADY, 10 daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Canady; and DONNA PHILLIPS, 9, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Darwin "Mike" Roberts, all of Chester.
All of MRS. CLARK'S children, four daughters, apparently perished in the accident. MRS. CLARK is the wife of Charles Clark. The body of one daughter, TAMMY, 7, was recovered from the station wagon. The bodies of three other daughters, BECKY, 11, NORMA, 10, and CINDY, 9, still are missing.
Sisters of the PHILLIPS girl that survived also are missing. They are ROBIN, 11, and REBECCA ROBERTS, 6. The body of DEBORAH CANADY, 11, TAMORAH'S sister, was recovered from the station wagon.
All the girls were pupils at Chester Community Grade School.
A co-worker of ROBERTS' said the CANADY and ROBERTS girls were walking to the swimming pool when MRS. CLARK came by and offered them a ride.
They apparently arrived at the pool before it was open and decided to go for a short drive while waiting.
Park Boulevard the street on which MRS. CLARK was driving, runs from Rt. 3, where the pool is located, near the top of a hill, to Water Street, which runs along the Mississippi River. Park Boulevard is a steep hill about a mile long.
Ned Carlton, who owns a boat shop at Park Boulevard and Water Street, said he was outside his shop Friday afternoon and heard a car coming down the hill. Carlton said there was a sound as if something were dragging.
Carlton said he did not see the car but "saw the water fly" -- apparently when the car hit the water.
"Then I saw four heads bob up. I saw one of the girls drown," he said.
Carlton said MRS. CLARK kept wanting to return to the water but he persuaded her to come ashore.
"She kept saying, 'My babies are still out there!' I told her to get to the shore and we would get the others," Carlton said.

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