Asti, CA Auto Collision, Dec 1938



Cloverdale, Dec. 31. -- Four persons were killed, three of them children, and five were reported dying tonight when two automobiles collided head on near Asti, on the Redwood Highway, an Italian-Swiss colony two miles south of here.
The dead tentatively were identified as MARION J. VALENTI, 35, of Elk, Mendocino County, and three of his children -- a boy, 16, another boy, 14, and a girl 12. MRS. VALENTI and another VALENTI child were reported dying.
Another adult riding in the VALENTI auto was critically injured.
The occupants of the second auto were identified as DANNY SALVADORE, 26, and ANGELO RONZANICCI, 25, both employees at the Asti colony.
The injured were taken to the Healdsburg Hospital and later were removed to the Sonoma County Hospital at Santa Rosa. A truck removed two of the injured from the scene, while the other three were removed in an ambulance.
First reports from witnesses of the crash, indicated seven were killed, but a later check-up showed, however, that rescuers believed three of the injured were dead.
The VALENTI family was returning to Elk from a shopping trip to Healdsburg. Supplies for their New Year's dinner were scattered about the highway.
SALVADORE and RONZANICCI were driving to Healdsburg to attend a New Year's Eve dance.
Dr. C. V. Whited, of Mendocino City, who arrived at the scene only a few moments after the accident, said that bodies were strewn over the highway and an embankment at the side of the highway.
"One man, pinned behind the wheel of his auto, kept shouting, 'Find my baby,'" he said. "But I couldn't find the child, unless it was one of the dead children. Two other persons were pinned in the back of the auto -- we couldn't get the door open, and another man was pinned under the rear axle."
"The other auto was in the ditch at the side of the road. The mother's head was resting on her dead husband's feet. She was crying, 'My babies, my babies.' The babies must have been dead."
"Both cars were demolished. I had never seen anything like it. I was the third person to arrive at the scene of the accident and I can feel thankful that I was able to do at least something for their suffering. But I don't think it will do any good."
Dr. Whited was driving from his home in Mendicino City to visit friends at Santa Rosa over the holidays when he came across the demolished autos, he explained.
Dr. Frank Sohler, Jr., of Cloverdale, also arrived at the scene shortly after the accident and sent a youth to Carl Pellegrini, Asti grocer, who is in charge of the Red Cross first-aid station at that community.
Pellegrini called authorities and left for the scene immediately.
Ambulances, highway patrolmen and police sped to the scene from Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Cloverdale and Geyserville. County Coroner Fred Young of Healdsburg sent two hearses and an ambulance.
Pellegrini operates a grocery store at Asti. His brother, Paul, said Dr. Sohler told the boy he sent to summon aid that seven persons had been killed in the accident. Two other youths who entered the Asti grocery store later, badly frightened, said that they had pulled two persons from one of the wrecked automobiles. Both were dead, they said, and they left the accident scene to summon aid. They said that both autos were sedans and that six persons were riding in one of the cars.

Oakland Tribune California 1939-01-01