Clinton, CT Auto And Truck Crash, Mar 1955
FIVE MEN ARE KILLED IN CLINTON AUTO CRASH.
CAR HITS TRUCK AT HIGH SPEED ON RT. 1 CURVE.
STOCK CAR FANS DIE ALMOST INSTANTLY IN 1 A.M. TRAGEDY.
ACCIDENT ONE OF WORST IN STATE'S HISTORY, POLICE SAY.
Clinton, March 17 - (AP) - Five men, four of them stock car racing fans, were killed here at an early hour today when their car crashed head-on into a trailer truck.
State Police said the car was traveling at high speed and failed to round an S-curve on the heavily-traveled truck route.
Stock Car Driver.
The driver of the car drove a stock car last summer at the Waterford race track.
It took more than an hour and a half to remove the bodies from the smashed car.
The terrific crash at about 1:10 a.m. pushed the front end of the sedan accordion-like up to the windshield.
The dead were identified by State Police as:
THOMAS H. VAN EPPS, of Old Saybrook, the driver;
GENAIRO M. DARGROSS, 26, of Clinton;
WILLIAM A. THOMPSON, 28, Old Saybrook;
WILKENS EMMONS, of Old Saybrook;
and THOMAS MITCHELL, of Old Saybrook.
The driver of the truck and a helper received facial cuts and abrasions but were not hospitalized.
The crash occurred near a section called Bell's corner. The highway is heavily used by trucks and runs through the center of this southern Connecticut town, about 15 miles east of New Haven.
The crash occurred, State Police said, after both vehicles had made curves at opposite ends of the S-form in the highway.
Auto Spun About.
The impact spun the auto in a complete circle and it stopped beside the truck on the road shoulder.
Its doors were bent and crumpled and had to be pried open before the bodies could be taken out.
A preliminary State Police report said that "the
evidence at the scene would indicate the passenger car was going on the wrong side of the road."
The truck driver was identified as CLINTON B. BIGELOW, 33, of Portsmouth, R.I. He was driving a truck operated by Bigelow Bros. company of Portsmouth. The helper was identified as DONALD MARTIN, 21, of Fall River, Mass.
State Police said the truck was traveling in a westerly direction, toward New York, and the car going easterly toward New London.
The United Press said police were unable to determine immediately where the men had been or where they were going when the crash occurred.
MITCHELL was the son-in-law of State Adjutant General Frederick G. Reincke.
Police said VAN EPPS had a birthday Tuesday and the men may have been out on a belated celebration.
The United Press also said BIGELOW was arrested on a technical charge of reckless driving and freed without bail by Coroner Morris H. Wrubel. He said, "I saw the car coming at me on the wrong side of the road at what seemed to be a high rate of speed. I swerved to the right in an effort to avoid a collision but it was too late."
It was almost a head-on crash, police said. The car, going east, smashed into the left front of the truck. Police said all of the bodies were badly mutilated.
Three years ago, six persons died a flaming death when their car crashed and caught fire at Colchester. At the time, this tragedy was described by State Police as the worst in Connecticut traffic history.
Bridgeport Post Connecticut 1955-03-17