Mount Clemens, MI Golf Course Footbridge Collapse, July 1963



Mount Clemens, Mich. (AP) -- A footbridge over a golf course river collapsed during a tournament Saturday, plunging a crowd of spectators, mostly women, into the water.
Nearly 50 persons, including star golfer JO ANNE PRENTICE, a tournament player, were taken to hospitals.
A 200-foot suspension bridge, 18 beet above the Clinton River which flows through the Hillcrest Country Club, gave way under the weight of an estimated 80 people.
Some rode the bridge down as it sagged to the water, first swinging in an arc, witnesses said. Others were flying into the river where the water is 3 1/2 to 6 feet deep.
Many of the injured were hurt seriously. They included women who suffered broken bones.
Several of those taken from the water were children.
MISS PRENTICE, 30, veteran golfing professional from Birmingham, Ala., reportedly suffered leg and possible internal injuries. She was taken to St. Joseph Hospital and held for observation.
Spectators crowding the bridge were watching the play in Michigan's annual Women's Wolverine Open Tournament.
PEGGY WILSON, Austin, Tex., one of the players, had just walked across the bridge when it began falling.
"Nobody really panicked," MISS WILSON said.
"But when the bridge started to go, they seemed to freeze."
ALTHEA GIBSON, former world tennis queen and now a golfer, had crossed the bridge earlier.
"There were only about 10 people when I went across but it was going like a roller coaster even then," MISS GIBSON said.
The Macomb County sheriff's department said an anchor hook holding one of the bridge's four steel suspension cables, snapped, causing the collapse.
Rescuers waded into the water to aid victims, bringing some to shore on stretchers.
One of those who rode the bridge to the water was JOEL MASON, Wayne State University basketball coach.
"I was smack in the middle when it buckled and we all went in," MASON said.
Officials of the Hillcrest Country Club said the bridge supports had been reinforced last spring in anticipation of a large crowd at the tournament.
Deputy Sheriff Bill Chadwick said that when one cable hook snapped, the three other cables
"straightened out and pulled loose from the anchoring device."
"This let the whole bridge collapse," Chadwick said.

Salina Journal Kansas 1963-07-28