New Sharon, IA Auto Rolls Into Flooded Ditch, July 1948


New Sharon - (AP) - Six farm girls drowned seven miles east of here Friday when the car in which they were riding rolled down an embankment into a water-filled ditch.
A five-year-old girl, IVA MAY VAN KAMPEN, sister of one of the victims, was the only survivor.
The dead:
HELEN VAN KAMPEN, 18, daughter of Everett Van Kampen and sister of IVA MAY. Sheriff Dwight Mateer said HELEN was driving the car.
ILA RUTH McMAHAN, 6, all daughters of Gerald McMahan, a neighbor of Van Kampen.
MONA McMAHAN, 18, daughter of Donald McMahan, and a cousin of the other McMahan girls.
Sheriff Mateer said the accident occurred only about a quarter of a mile from the Van Kampen farm home.
The girls were en route to a 4-H Club meeting, the sheriff said, when their car stalled on a hill.
MISS VAN KAMPEN started to back down the rock road to get started again, and the wheels got too near the edge of the rock road.
The shoulder of the road, softened by recent rains, gave way and the car rolled over sideways three or four times into the deep slough, which had about seven feet of water in it, Mateer said.
IVA MAY managed to crawl out a window of the car and met her brother, who was riding down the road on a tractor. Together they summoned their father and two other neighbors. The other girls were dead when the car was pulled from the water.
Sheriff Mateer said only about four inches of the four tires showed above water when rescuers arrived on the scene.
The loss of the four girls from the Gerald McMahan family left the McMahans with only one child, a young boy. Funeral services will be held Sunday afternoon at Union Mills, Ia., for the four, and they will be buried in a common grave in the Union Mills cemetery.
Services for MONA McMAHAN, who was visiting her cousins will be held Monday afternoon at Barnes City, Ia., and funeral services for MISS VAN KAMPER are planned for Monday morning at New Sharon.
IVA MAY'S brother found the little girl soaking wet as he was returning to the farm home on a tractor and she told him of the accident. Together they summoned their father and two neighbors.
Two of the girls were still alive when pulled out, but efforts to keep them breathing by artificial respiration failed.
New Sharon is about 60 miles east of Des Moines.

The Muscatine Journal and News-Tribune Iowa 1948-07-17