Fayetteville, NC Truck And Flat Bed Collide, June 1957

DEATH TOLL CLIMBS TO 19 FROM FAYETTEVILLE CRASH.

NATIONAL RECORD FOR WORST TRUCK ACCIDENT IS EQUALLED.

Fayetteville, N.C. (AP) -- The death toll of a fiery two-truck collision near here reached 19 today, equalling the nation's record for the worst track accident in history.
WILLIE GARY of Syracuse, N.Y., died in a hospital here from injuries recieved in the accident near here yesterday.
Some 13 persons died at the scene, the others in hospitals.
The accident occurred at a Y intersection of U.S. 301 and N.C. 162 when a tractor-trailer truck loaded with potatoes slammed into a flat-bed truck crammed with migrant Negro farm workers on the way to a bean field. The workers' truck caught fire.
Police and civilian agencies today set about the grim task of identifying five of the 19 persons killed.
The State Highway Patrol said no charges had been filed pending a full probe of the accident.
Highway Patrol Capt. RAYMOND WILLIAMS said a major task appeared to be the identification of five of the bodies taken from the flaming wreckage of an old model truck carrying the 41 Negro workers to a bean-picking job on a farm a few miles away.
He said the identification would be difficult because names and addresses of the five appeared to be known only by LEWIS WESLEY, 57, of Pahokee, Fla., the foreman in charge of the workers. WESLEY was among the dead, as was his assistant and driver of the truck, TOM JUNIOR MACKEY, 20, also of Pahokee.
WILLIAMS said several of the workers were known to survivors only by nick-names or by their initials.
The accident occurred when the flat-bed truck carrying the workers "packed like cattle" under a canvas awning pulled into the path of a larger truck loaded with potatoes.
The heavier truck, driven by GILBERT ROBERT PETERS, JR., 25, of Wapwallopen, Pa., spun on its side after crashing into the workers' truck. PETERS was among the 20 hospitalized after the accident.
Thirteen of the dead were identified from papers found on their body. Home addresses of many were still lacking, however.
The truck carrying the laborers was owned by ERSKINE McCULLOUGH of Pahokee. McCULLOUGH said he was driving a smaller vehicle a short distance ahead of his truck and that he witnessed the crash.
"It was a horrible, terrible thing," he said.
In Chicago, the National Safety Council said the record number of deaths in a truck collision occurred in a similar accident in Texas in August, 1957, when 19 persons were killed.

The Daily Times News Burlington North Carolina 1957-06-07

-----------------------------------------------------------

WRECK TOLL NOW STANDING AT 20 DEAD.

Fayetteville, N.C. (AP) -- The nation's worst two-truck highway wreck has claimed its 20th victim, one more than the previous record set in a similar wreck in Texas in 1947.
Thursday's fiery collision at a highway intersection near here claimed two more victims yesterday. They were WILLIE GARY of Syracuse, N.Y., and LAVERSE GILES of Mount Olive, N.C.
They were members of a crew of about 40 Negro farm laborers, heading toward the day's job of bean picking.
Their truck collided with another at an intersection nine miles south of Fayetteville. The farm workers' truck burst into flames, which claimed several of the victims.
Several of the surviving injured still are in critical condition.

The Daily Times News Burlington North Carolina 1957-06-08