Yakima, WA Multi Vehicle Crash Kills Nine, July 1952


Yakima (AP) - A spectacular crash of a gasoline-laden truck and trailer rig, a pickup truck and an automobile claimed nine lives in a flaming highway pyre late Friday.
Only the father of a family of eight survived - and he was in critical condition in a Yakima hospital with multiple chest injuries.
He is LEE M. JOHNSON, 34, who was bringing his wife and six small children back from a swimming party on the Naches River.
The wife and five of the children were killed outright in the blazing collision. The sixth child, ROBERT, 5, died Saturday.
Other child victims were KATHY, 2; CONNIE, 3; GARY, 4; JEAN, 7; and LEE, JR., 8.
Also killed in the crash were the gasoline truck driver, MERRILL ERICKSON, 28, of Seattle, and a man tentatively identified as DONALD C. CAMPBELL, 23, Selah, Wash.
JOHNSON was driving a pickup truck. Yakima County Deputy Prosecutor Don J. Clark said the machine loaded with the JOHNSON family apparently entered the highway directly in front of the gas truck, operated by Eastern Truck Lines.
The truck smashed into the rear of the JOHNSON vehicle, and the truck, in turn, was rammed by CAMPBELL'S machine.
The occupants of the JOHNSON car were thrown helter-skelter on the highway by the force of the impact. The truck careened out of control, a flaming torch, and plunged through a concrete bridge approach and down an embankment.
ERICKSON'S body was found in the charred cab of the truck. CAMPBELL'S body was found near the gas truck's trailer, which did not burn.

The Capital Journal Salem Oregon 1952-07-12