Sterling, CO Grain Truck And Auto Crash, Dec 1966


Sterling, Colo. (UPI) - Harry Burham stepped out of his fully-loaded grain truck in the bitter pre-dawn coldness and walked back to where his truck had been hit.
There wasn't much left of the car. He saw that five of the nine occupants were dead. The total would be eight dead and one injured before the day was gone.
"It was the most horrible experience of my life," the 28-year-old trucker from Hillrose, Colo., said. The dead included three young boys, their parents, two grandparents of the children and a friend.
Burham began running to a nearby house to get help, but an occupant, Capt. Ralph Burns of the Air Force Academy, had heard the crash and met Burham halfway.
The trucker told Burns to get help and then went back to the crash scene to see what he could do. There wasn't much to do but watch.
"It happened so quickly. I couldn't avoid a collision," he said later. He had been hauling a load of grain from Big Springs, Neb., to Brush, Colo., when the accident occurred.
The Colorado State Patrol said the truck was traveling west on U.S. 6 when the car attempted to turn off Colorado Highway 63 and struck the side of the truck. The mishap occurred at the Atwood Interchange, seven miles south of Sterling in northeast Colorado.
It was the worst single accident of the year in Colorado and boosted the state highway fatality toll to a new record of 575. The previous high was 567 set in 1964.
The only survivor in the car, DEBRA DREWER, 13, of Hudson, Colo., was reported in satisfactory condition at a Sterling hospital. She said she saw the truck and thought the driver, MRS. LILLIAN SLAGLE, did also.
Those killed were GARY DUANE HOBBS, 23, of Sterling; his wife, SHARON JUNE, 18; their three children, GARY, JR., 3, RICY, 1, and DARREL, 1 month; HOBBS mother, MRS. LILLIAN SLAGLE, 44, of Greeley, Colo.; KENNETH ABEL, 41, of Sterling, HOBBS' father-in-law; and NEVA JUNE FRANCES, 30, of Sterling.
Burham suffered some minor bruises when his truck crashed through a fence and stopped just short of a house.

Lead Daily Call South Dakota 1966-12-12