Muncie, IN Head On Crash Kills Ten, Oct 1956
10 KILLED IN STATE'S WORST AUTO CRASH.
2 CARS RAM HEAD-ON IN MUNCIE AREA.
9 DEAD IN ONE VEHICLE - FAMILY OF 6 WIPED OUT.
Muncie, Ind. (UP) - Indiana's worst automobile accident in history killed 10 persons Wednesday night, including four young sisters, in a head-on collision.
Nine of the dead were jammed together in one car. They were Muncie Negroes. The 10th victim was THOMAS BRYAN BURNS, 35, Keystone, Ind.
The accident occurred seven miles southwest of here on Ind. 67, a main highway between Muncie and Anderson, at about 10:15 p.m.
A family of six was wiped out as the cars crashed together with such force one of them was hurled 88 feet from the point of impact.
The dead included MRS. LORETTA BEAL WITHERSPOON, 36, who state police said was expecting a baby within two months.
MRS. WITHERSPOON'S brother, his wife, their four daughters, the children's grandmother and a friend were killed. There were no survivors in either car.
State police said there was "evidence of alcohol" in the car driven by FRED BEAL, 32, into which nine of the victims were crowded.
Officers identified the other dead as BEAL'S wife, LILLIAN, 30; their daughter CLAUDIA, 4;
VICKI LYNN, 5; CHRISTINA, 6; and INEZ, 8;
BEAL'S mother, MRS. MARIA CLARK, 50, and JESSE PRICE, 37.
Policeman John Nicewander said skid marks at the point of impact indicated the car driven by BEAL apparently swerved across the westbound lane over the center line and crashed into BURNS' eastbound car.
All the victims except one were killed instantly, Nicewander said. LILLIAN BEAL died shortly afterward on the operating table of the Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie.
It was the heaviest death toll ever racked up in an Indiana traffic accident involving automobiles only. However, traffic accidents involving buses and trucks have taken a greater toll. The worst Hoosier accident in history was the collision of an interurban car with a flatbed truck carrying Sahara Grotto Shriners to a barn dance in 1925 at the edge of Indianapolis. Nineteen persons were killed. A train-truck collision near LaPorte in 1947 killed 13 Texas Mexican farm laborers and a bus crashed into a bridge and burned near Bloomington in 1949, killing 16 persons.
State Police reported the accident was the worst in Indiana history involving two automobiles.
The worst previous toll was seven in a crash at Ind. 37 and what now is Ind. 100, May 7, 1944.
The Muncie accident occurred in Ind. 67. Nine of the dead were jammed together in one of the cars. BURNS was alone in the other. All passengers in both cars were killed.
Motorists who happened along moments after the collision saw a gruesome sight. The twisted wreckage of the automobiles, locked together by the impact, stood in the middle of the highway and bodies of the victims lay strewn about the scene.
Flares lighted the death scene as uniformed policemen sought to determine how the accident happened.
Traffic was tied up in both directions on the main road between Muncie and Anderson, two of Indiana's largest cities.
The Times Hammond Indiana 1956-10-04