Casa Grande, AZ Truck Collision, Oct 1951
9 PAPAGO INDIANS KILLED IN ACCIDENT SATURDAY NIGHT.
BULLDOZER BLADE WIPES BODIES OFF TRUCK BED.
CORONER JURY TUESDAY FOUND ACCIDENT DUE TO NEGLIGENCE OF LAWRENCE RUFF.
A coroner's jury Tuesday found that an accident in which 9 Papago Indians were killed on the reservation road south of Casa Grande Saturday night, was due to the negligence of LAWRENCE RUFF, Eloy.
RUFF was driving a GMC semi-tractor and trailer owned by R. C. Beauchamp and Son Tillage Company of Eloy north on the Papgo Indian Reservation Road, 16 miles south of Casa Grande, when he met, on a narrow bridge, a truck driven by David Henderson of Coolidge, loaded with Papago Indians headed for a religious festival at Pisinemo Village between Ajo and Tucson.
Ruff's truck was hauling a bulldozer blade which extended out over the side of the truck body and swept across the Henderson truck mangling the bodies of 9 Indians, one of which was severed in two. Five other Indians received injuries, and the truck driver, Henderson, received slight injuries in the accident.
The accident occurred at 7:20 Saturday evening, and ambulances were kept busy for over two hours bringing the injured and dead bodies to Casa Grande.
A coroner's jury found that "David Henderson was driving in a legal manner with due regard to the safety of others." He operates a labor camp at Eleven Mile Corner and was taking the Indians, many of whom pick cotton for him, to the fiesta.
The collision took place on the south end of what is known as Silver Reef Bridge over the Silver Reef Wash on the Papago Reservation, and the coroner's inquest held here Monday and Tuesday brought out the following information.
The point of first impact was the left head light and fender of the GMC truck, which struck the forward left corner of the rack of Henderson's truck. The bulldozer struck the rack of the Henderson truck just above the bed of the truck scooping off all of the passengers riding on the left side and one of those riding on the rear of the left side. The dozer blade finally left the GMC after scraping the west rail of the
bridge and came to rest, facing in the opposite direction from its original approach to the bridge, on the west half of the road bed of the bridge. One body, that of a young girl was cut in half, and other bodies were strewn along the bridge and wash at various distances from the south end of the bridge to the center of the bridge.
The drivers, after a conference on the bridge, decided that Ruff as to go to town and summon aid. After calling ambulances and the Highway Patrol, Ruff called Mrs. R. C. Beauchamp in Eloy, who drove to Casa Grande, and they both went back to the scene of the accident. Mr. Beauchamp was out of the state at the time.
Patrolman Jack Wood arrived at the scene of the accident and rendered first aid to the injured and summoned Patrolman B. C. Kratzberg to assist him. He arrived in a few minutes. They also summoned other police officers available to assist, and Deputy Sheriffs Jack Terry and Meryl Gillspie responded.
A coroner's jury was called, composed of Coroner E. O. Mason, G. W. Hardesty, Chief of Police, L. D. Stonecipher, H. E. Crismon, Ed Glimpse, A. H. Jordon and C. L. Germaine, and they arrived at the scene of the accident about 6:30 p.m.
Ruff was taken into custody by Patrolman Jack Wood, and after bail was set at $2,500, Ruff was released pending arraignment at a coroner's inquest set for Monday.
No criminal charge has been filed in the court against Ruff except for the traffic citation isued by Patrolman Wood charging him with involuntary manslaughter. However, it appears that the Federal Government will have jurisdiction and will prosecute any criminal action arising from the accident.
At the inquest Monday and Tuesday the FBI was represented by Stewart Thadford of Phoenix. The FBI was interested in that the accident took place on federal property, and Papago Indians were involved. Oliver LaFarge, famous writer and President of the Association on American Indian Affairs, was present. The Industrial Commisson was represented, their interest being in the possibility of the occupants of the Henderson truck being transported to or from work, and to determine whether there would be any liability on their part. Harry L. Stevens, Superintendent of the Papago Agency at Sells, Ralph Gelvin, Regional Director of Indian Service and Padre Theoore of the Mission at Pisinem Village,were also present.
Those killed in the accident were:
PETER CARLOS, 19.
LUCIA CARLOS, 24.
AMELIA ANTONE, 15.
PHYLLIS MANUEL, 23.
LAURA ANTONE, 22.
MARY ANITA ANTONE, 20.
JOSEPHINE SELVICIO, 40.
LUCINDA CARRILLO, 18.
CECELIA ANTONE, 32.
With the exception of two passengers on the truck, all the Indians were related, being either brothers, sisters or cousins. Burial was Wednesday aftrnoon at Pisinemo Village.
Injured in the accident were JOAQUIN LEON, 20, FERNANDO MONTE, 18, AUGUSTIN ANTONE, 17, FRED ADAMS, 11, and EDWARD MANUEL, 4, who was riding on his mother's lap when she was killed.
Patrolmen Wood and Kretzberg of Casa Grande were credited with doing a thorough job of investigating the accident and obtaning evidence of importance.
Casa Grande Dispatch Arizona 1951-10-25