Cherokee, IA Runaway Truck Accident, Dec 1949
BRAKE-LESS TRUCK REAPS DEATH.
TWO DIE; FIVE HURT; 24 CARS ARE SMASHED.
BULLDOZER-LOADED VEHICLE CAROMES INTO CITY CENTER.
Cherokee, Ia., Dec. 23. (UP) - A giant truck ran wild down a steep hill and killed two persons, injured five, and smashed 24 automobiles as it whiplashed through seven blocks of the town's main business district.
The truck, its brakes useless and its transmission ripped out, scattered autos like tenpins as it plowed through the street crowded with Christmas shoppers yesterday.
It was "almost miraculous," Police Chief Art Locke said today, that the toll of dead and injured was not higher. He said property damage would total $10,000 or $15,000.
Truck Driver Unhurt.
"I never saw anything like it," Locke said. "There were metal and auto parts strewn for a block and a half."
The truck driver, Bob Witte of Sac City, Ia., crawled out unhurt after his vehicle finally plowed to a halt atop the wreckage of the first car it struck in its wild rampage. It had shoved the wrecked car ahead of it for a block and a half, Locke said.
Dead in the wreckage of that car were RAY HANSEN, 30, and JEFFREY BARRY, 40, both of Cherokee. They apparently died instantly, police said, when the truck - loaded with a seven-ton bulldozer - struck their car as it approached an intersection.
HANSEN'S wife, MAXINE, 30, was removed from the twisted heap of metal with serious injuries. She regained partial consciousness hours after the accident, but hospital attendants said her condition did not permit questioning.
An occupant of another car and three pedestrians were injured as the tractor-trailer crunched down the street, swinging from side to side against parked cars.
The truck driver said he was halfway down a hill north of Cherokee when the "hydraulic fluid in the brakes failed." He tried to shift into low, but stripped the gears.
"From there on," he said, "I didn't have any brakes or any other means of stopping the truck."
He lost control of the vehicle completely, he said, when his truck hit the car in which BARRY and the HANSENS were riding.
Lubbock Evening Journal Texas 1949-12-23