Fort Pierce, FL Head On Collision, May 1954
7 DEAD IN HEAD-ON CRASH NEAR HERE.
FOUR OTHERS ARE INJURED; ALL VICTIMS LOCAL NEGROES.
By Len McNulty, News-Tribune Staffer.
Two automobiles, meeting with terrific, head-on impact shortly after 12:30 a.m. Wednesday on State Road 60 (Orange Avenue Extension) 10 miles west of Fort Pierce, caused seven of the 11 occupants of the vehicles to meet with violent death.
The accident, taking one of the heaviest, if not the largest toll of human lives in the history of St. Lucie County, saw heroic rescue attempts to save some of the lives of those involved on the part of ambulance crews, Highway Patrol, Sheriff's Department personnel, and crews manning garage wrecking trucks.
The dead were identified in the early hours of the morning as: ANNA RENE BUSH, 27; her husband, CLARENCE, 26, one of the drivers of the cars; ANNA JOYCE SAFFOLD, 3 1/2; her younger brother, EDWARD CHARLES SAFFOLD, 17 months; JOSEPHINE ANDREWS, about 40; DR. GEORGE KEEBE, driver of the other car; and WILLIE GILLIN; all Negroes and all of Fort Pierce, according to investigating officials. The ANDREWS woman was dead on arrival at Fort Pierce Memorial Hospital, where five of the survivors were removed, with little ANNA JOYCE SAFFOLD succumbing soon after her arrival there.
Confined to the hospital are four other persons, all passengers in the light sedan. THELMA BUSH, 7; DORIS ROWE, 9 and her mother ELDORA ROWE, 49, are being held for observation and SUSAN SAFFOLD, 21, is being held for observation and treatment of multiple contusions and abrasions of the face.
Traveling At Fast Speed.
In reconstructing the tragedy, State Trooper Robert Gray, and Sheriff's Deputy Kenneth Coleman, who were at the scene shortly after it took place, stated the KEEBE driven car apparently was traveling westward at an estimated speed of 90 miles per hour, according to physical evidence of the accident. Blame for the catastrophe was also placed on DR. KEEBE for having allegedly been traveling on the wrong side of the roadway at the time.
Trooper Gray, who was the first to arrive at the scene, stated the Bush driven car, apparently heading eastward toward town at the time and containing nine of the 11 involved, was catapulted onto the roadside shoulder after the impact, strewing the bodies of the living and the dead helter-skelter about the area. Not seeing another vehicle in the immediate area, Gray, in questioning one of the Saffold children, discovered another car to be involved, that of DR. KEEBE. Searching the opposite side of the highway, Gray discovered where his vehicle had caromed into shallow water on the road's edge, after traveling an estimated 393 feet after the impact.
DR. KEEBE, according to Gray, was still alive at that time, being wedged between the steering post and dashboard of his car, but he expired before help could be given him.
A radio call back to Fort Pierce brought emergency crews of nurses and doctors to Memorial hospital to stand by for developments, with the first of the injured arriving there soon after.
It was stated by medical colleagues of DR. KEEBE that he apparently was en-route to his Gainesville residence at the time, having spent the day here in Fort Pierce completing plans to re-open an office here, which he closed about a year ago before moving to the up-state city.
The News Tribune Fort Pierce Florida 1954-05-26