Concord, NC Bus And Truck Collision, Nov 1955



Concord, N.C. (UP) -- A Greyhound bus loaded with student nurses returning from a convention sideswiped a disabled tractor-trailer and rammed into a ditch today, killing one girl and injuring 32 others.
The highway patrol identified the victim as CLARA JANE DILLINGHAM, 19, Rt. 2, Weaverville, N.C.
Patrolmen W. A. Nichols and Charles Tilley said traffic on U.S. 29 was blocked for nearly an hour because of the wreckage and vehicles which stopped to lend assistance.
"We were eyewitnesses to the accident," said Nichols. "We had been riding behind the bus since it left Concord."
Nichols said the tractor-trailer apparently was having engine trouble and was attempting to pull off the highway onto a shoulder when the bus plowed into its right rear.
"Apparently the bus driver failed to see the truck," said Nichols. He said the bus, after sideswiping the truck, rammed into a five foot ditch.
Both vehicles were heading south toward Charlotte, he said. The girls were returning to Charlotte Memorial and Presbyterian Hospitals from Winston-Salem where they had attended the state nurses' convention.
Nichols said the chartered bus left Charlotte with 39 girls aboard. "I don't know how many were on the bus when it wrecked on its return trip," he said. "But 32 of the girls were injured."
Six girls and the bus driver, GEORGE ROBERT ALLEN, 29, of Charlotte, were taken to Cabarrus County Hospital at Kannapolis. ALLEN suffered lacerations of the forehead and an injured knee.
The driver of the truck, owned by Great Southern Trucking Co., was not injured. He was identified as Gene Harold Ritch, 25, of Durham.
Nichols said ALLEN and Ritch had posted $2,300 appearance bonds for an inquest to be set at a later date.
Nichols praised the student nurses for "heroic action" in tending for injured and helping pull other girls from the bus.
"The girls' morale was really up," he said. "Some
of them were bleeding so badly you couldn't see their eyes. Yet they wouldn't get in ambulances for fear it may deprive some other girl more badly injured of space."
"We had to force some of them into the ambulances and cars to take them to hospitals."
Marybell May, director of nurses at Presbyterian
and 22 from Memorial.
"I was in the car right behind the bus and there was a highway patrol car behind us," she said.
"It was the worst thing I've ever seen."
"We got the girls out as fast as we could and some of them helped us administer first aid," she said. "The girls sitting in the front on the right side of the bus were injured the most."

Statesville Record North Carolina 1955-11-03