Deming, NM Head On Crash, Dec 1959


Deming - A terrific head-on collision 17 miles west of here on U.S. 70-80 took the lives of five persons early Sunday, three of them young servicemen heading home for Christmas.
State Patrolman Steve Lindsey said witnesses reported the "terrific" collision occurred when one driver - a Marine - fell asleep at the wheel. Lindsey and a fellow patrolman Guy Dunivan, blamed fatigue on the part of both drivers as cause for the accident.
Killed were Pvt. DARRELL GENE SMITH, 18, Okmulgee, Okla.; Seaman DON MYRICK, 20, Wichita Falls, Tex.; Seaman ROY WESTMORELAND, 18, Cushing, Tex.; WAYNE ELDERG LEWIS, 26, Long Beach, Calif.; and JAMES A. MENDELSOHN, 36, Berkeley, Calif.
Injured, and in Mimbres Memorial Hospital here, were Seaman JOHN E. JACKSON, 18, Belton, Tex.; and Marine PFC THOMAS BUFFINGTON, JR., 18, Bryan, Tex.
Lindsey said both suffered broken backs and other injuries and late Sunday were reported in serious condition.
Witnesses in cars traveling behind Smith's 1956-model car, said the Marine's vehicle veered into the westbound lane and crashed head-on with the 1955-model car driven by Lewis, Lindsey reported.

Driver Blinked Lights.
Lewis blinked his car lights in an effort to attract the attention of the other driver, the witnesses told officers.
Lindsey said the accident scene is just east of the southwest New Mexico crossroad village of Gage. The crash occurred on a short stretch of straight highway. Both cars had just rounded
"soft curves" before the collision, Lindsey said.
The officers said the impact was so terrific both cars apparently bounced into the air, returned to the highway and ended up within four feet of each other. There were no skid marks at the scene from either car, they added.

Four Hit Windshields.
Lindsey said Mendelsohn and Westmoreland were riding in the front seats with the drivers, and all four were killed, apparently, when crushed against the dash boards and windshields of the car at impact. The front seats were pushed against the dashboards, he related.
Myrick died at the scene after he and the two injured servicemen were given first aid by an Air Force Lieutenant who stopped at the scene.
Lindsey said the servicemen apparently left their respective bases Camp Pendleton and San Diego, Calif., Saturday on Christmas leaves.
Smith apparently picked up Buffington and the sailors en route, Lindsey said.

Albuquerque Journal New Mexico 1959-12-21