Sikeston, MO Auto Collision, Dec 1958


Sikeston, Mo. - "Twas the day before Christmas" and in St. Louis and Caruthersville two groups of colored people, laden with gaily wrapped packages, started out to drive to relatives' homes to spend Christmas. The former were being driven to their grandmother's home in Forrest City, Ark., and the latter had started for Sikeston to visit at the home of Ed Howard.
At 4:30 p.m. as the Christmas lights began twinkling at homes along Highway 61 and in the city, two tangled, smoking masses of wreckage and a lonesome doll propped up on the back seat of the car gazing stolidly at torn and bedraggled Christmas Packages scattered along the pavement, marked the scene, 8 1/2 miles south of Sikeston on Highway 61 where those two cars met head-on killing five persons outright and hospitalizing the other eight.
The dead: in the car from Caruthersville were:
MRS. ALDINE WATSON, 26, of Sikeston, mother of three;
KATHLEEN GROSS, 31, of Caruthersville;
HENRY JONES 36, of Caruthersville, driver of the car;
and in the car from St. Louis;
LOUIS McNEILL, 19, of St. Louis, driver of that car;
JACQUELINE WISE, 15, of St. Louis.
Hospitalized of the Caruthersville party were:
DORSEY CHANDLER, 17, of Caruthersville;
and AMOS JONES, of Caruthersville.
Taken to the hospital from the St. Louis car were;
EMANUEL HARDIN, JR., 16, of St. Louis;
his cousin, JANELLE WISE, 20, of St. Louis;
and her four-year-old daughter, EVA.
Probably the clearest story of the tragedy was given the investigating State Troopers by Cecil Mott, 728 East Gladys Street, driver of a bread truck for Hart's Bakery, who said the Cadillac, (the St. Louis car) came up behind him, whipped by him at a high rate of speed and then the driver (LOUIS McNEILL) evidently saw the northbound JONES car approaching and tried to get back in the southbound lane, but lost control of the machine when its wheels went onto the shoulder and he hit the other car.
Six ambulances, four from Sikeston and two from New Madrid, picked up the 13 victims, including the five fatalities.
Doctors were called from Christmas Eve festivities and the work of trying to save the more critically injured and patch up the lesser injured began.
This morning the hospital reports three are still considered as being in critical condition; MRS. THOMAS; JANELL WISE; and DOROTHY GROSS.
Of all the injured, EMANUEL HARDIN, JR., was the luckiest and escaped the smash-up with only slight cuts and bruises. At the hospital Wednesday night, EMANUEL said LOUIS McNEILL, was going to McGee, Ark., to visit, and had offered to take him, his two cousins, DOROTHY and JANELLE WISE; MRS. THOMAS and her little daughter to Forrest City, Ark., to visit EMANUEL'S grandmother, a Mrs. Mattie McDonald.
The State Troopers reported later, that it had been learned McNEILL had just bought the Cadillac and the trip to Arkansas was his first, and last, venture on the highway.
Young HARDIN and the two WISE girls lived with his mother and their aunt, Mrs. Ida Hardin, in St. Louis.

Daily Standard Sikeston Missouri 1958-12-26