Sebring, FL Truck And Auto Crash, Mar 1994
FATAL CRASH STUNS FRIENDS, FAMILIES.
Sebring - Florence Craddock had planned to celebrate her birthday with her five best friends Thursday night.
Earlier in the day, she had met with the women at a Nu-Hope luncheon at the Agri-Civic Center south of Sebring. They were all volunteers honored for helping the needy.
That night they were to share a birthday cake - one covered with green clovers for St. Patrick's Day.
The cake sat untouched in the freezer. Craddock had no reason to celebrate. Her best friends died in a car accident that afternoon.
VIRGINIA LOVE HAYNOR, 75, was Craddock's sister-in-law and next-door neighbor. HAYNOR sat in the front passenger seat of ROBINA "ROBBIE" WINTERMUTE'S car when WINTERMUTE, 85, drove in front of a citrus truck traveling south on U.S. Highway 27.
The impact killed WINTERMUTE and the four passengers. MARGARET HIGGS BOLEN, 78, sat in the middle in the back seat with M. ELIZABETH "ZEB" CRAWFORD, 79, and DOROTHY JANE BURLEY, 74, on either side.
The three in back died instantly; the two in front died soon after being taken to Highlands Regional Medical Center.
"They were very special women. All of them," said Marcia Luttman, another close friend. "I describe this feeling I have as a hole in my chest. I think that's how everyone feels here."
The women belonged to the Hobby Club at Frances Estates, an adult mobile home park. The club made lap robes, slippers, pot holders and other items for nursing homes and a homeless shelter.
"They were some of my best workers," said Craddock, who headed the group.
Tom Bolen took a nap while his wife Margaret, left for the banquet at 1 p.m. He later did some chores outside until he realized in was 6 p.m. and his wife hadn't returned.
Sensing that something was wrong, he was ready to call the hospital when Luttman came by to ask Bolen if he had seen his wife or Wintermute.
Luttman, a nurse, also was very close to these women, especially Wintermute. They took walks together around the park every evening.
Bolen told Luttman he was worried and asked her to call the hospital. Soon Luttman found out what had happened.
"She just bent her head down and started crying. She said it wasn't good," Bolen recalled.
The Bolens had been married for 58 years.
Bolen also spoke with the other two husbands who lost their wives that day. George Crawford wasn't taking many calls. During Bolen's chat with Robert Burley, Burley said he should have been in his wife Dorothy's place.
"Yeah, I said it should have been both of us. Let the women live. But, that's not the way God wanted it," he said.
Their son, Ron Bolen, who flew in from Houston, said his mother was gone but strong memories remain.
"My father had a distant cousin who was deaf and had no family other than my dad. He lived in one of those county homes. My mother learned to sign and she visited him regularly. She was his only contact to the outside world," an emotional Bolen said. "And she did that here, at No-Hope. She like to help people."
So did the other women.
"I think they were among the best-liked people in the park," said resident Warren Pease.
A memorial service for the five women is planned for 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Frances Estates clubhouse.
In lieu of flowers, the husbands would prefer donations be made to No-Hope, Bolen said.
"We're really going to miss them," park resident Rodney Grobey said.
The Tampa Tribune Florida 1994-03-19