San Clemente, CA Church Bus And Other Vehicle Crash, Aug 1964
EIGHT PERSONS KILLED IN CRASH.
ABOUT 40 INJURED IN CALIFORNIA AS BUS VEERS AFTER TIRE BLOWOUT.
San Clemente, Calif. (AP) - Eight persons, including the adopted daughter of Actors Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, were killed and about 40 others were injured when a bus carrying 65 church members crashed head on into seven other vehicles Monday.
Highway patrol officers said a front tire on the church bus blew out, causing the vehicle to careen across the center line on busy U.S. 101 into oncoming traffic.
Four of the dead were children. Ten of the injured were reported in serious condition.
After the accident, the horrified, frightened reactions were: "I couldn't look." "We all just prayed." "I thought I was gong to die. I can't believe I'm alive."
Bus 21 Years Old.
Officers said the bus was 21 years old and had no emergency exit. It was carrying 65 members of the Disciples of Christ Chapel of the Canyon Church of Canoga Park, Calif., and was six miles south of San Clemente near San Onofre Bridge, when a front tire blew.
The bus hurtled across the highway divider, striking seven other vehicles and finally coming to rest against a palm tree at the edge of a 40-foot bluff over San Onofre Creek.
Two children on the church bus died. One was DEBORAH LEE ROGERS, 12, a Korean, adopted daughter of Rogers and Miss Evans, his wife. The other was DEBORAH'S friend, JOAN RUSSELL, 11, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Russell of Granada Hills, Calif.
The other six dead were all in one station wagon. They were MARGARET HUSS ARMIJO, 20, of Albuquerque, N.M.; her children, JO ELLEN, 16 months, and JOSEPH, 6 months; her mother, MARIE HUSS, 50, of Fallbrook, Calif., and her sisters, SUSAN, 22, and CATHERINE, 15.
Miss Evans, distraught and under sedation at her Chatsworth, Calif., home, said only, "I've heard it, but I can't accept it. I just can't."
Passengers on the bus said the group had made its monthly trip to donate food and clothing to La Esperanza Orphanage in Tijuana, just across the Mexican border from San Diego.
The driver was the Rev. Lawrence Elton White, 49, pastor of the church.
The bus was on a stretch of four-lane, undivided highway known locally as "Slaughter Alley," for the 15 deaths that have occurred there so far this year. Only a mile ahead was a divided, six-lane freeway.
Rogers, convalescing in a Los Angeles hospital from recent neck surgery, was told by doctors of his child's death.
Debbie, adopted by Rogers and Miss Evans in 1958, was 12 last Friday.
The Oshkosh Northwestern Wisconsin 1964-08-18