Truth Or Consequences, NM Truck And Auto Collision, Jan 1954



Truth Or Consequences, Jan. 12 (AP) -- A flaming crash which sheared off half the abuttments of a concrete bridge late today killed eight Arizona persons.
MR. and MRS. H. F. LAFFERTY; MR. and MRS. MELVIN SEAVERS and the SEAVERS' four children, all of Elfrida, Ariz., died when their car crashed with a beer truck, plunged through the bridge sliding into a dry creek bed and burst into flames.
The bodies of LAFFERTY, MRS. SEAVERS and the baby were thrown clear. The five trapped in the burning car were burned badly.
The four children were identified late tonight by their grandfather, WILLIAM H. SEAVER of Elfrida, who arrived by auto.
He identified them as PHILLIP, 7; GARY, 6; CATHERINE, 5, and "baby boy," six months.
MRS. LAFFERTY was 39, her husband, 62; MRS. SEAVERS was 30, her husband, 34.
F. M. DANLEY, 34, of 1916 Madiera Dr. NE., Albuquerque, driver of the Coors beer truck, said he saw the Arizona automobile approaching a junction with U.S. 85 one mile north of this southern New Mexico resort city at a high rate of speed.
DANLEY said he turned on his air horn, but the driver apparently did not hear him until he was almost onto the highway and Cuchille Creek.
The Arizona car whipped down the wrong side of the highway, out of DANLEY'S path, then suddenly swerved directly in front of the heavily-laden truck. The trailer of the truck plunged after the car into the creek and the cab hung precariously on the edge. DANLEY received possible internal injuries and is suffering from shock.
Firemen from here were called to extinguish the flaming car.
The weather was clear and the roads dry.
The accident, worst in Sierra county history, pushed New Mexico's 1954 traffic toll to 15 and brought hundreds of spectators to the scene. Cars were lined up for half a mile trying to reach the bridge.
The State Highway Department cut a new roadbed through the creek to detour traffic around the blocked bridge.
Original identification of the bodies was by Justice of the Peace Ted Russell from papers found in the car and strewn along the creek bed after the crash.
Just four years ago another Coors truck was involved in an accident a fourth of a mile north of today's accident site. Three persons were killed.
Charles Dunwiddie, director of the Traffic Safety Bureau, said eight is the highest death toll in a single accident in 13 years. Three wrecks last year each took five lives, inclulding a train-car smash near Deming.
In Elfrida it was reported that the SEAVERS were probably in the Truth Or Consequences area on business.
SEAVERS, a rancher, lived at Elfrida all of his life. LAFFERTY reportedly moved to Arizona five years ago from New Mexico and owned
"considerable" real estate in the Arizona town where he operated a store. He is survived by a daughter, MRS. VERNON SEAVER, of Elfrida, a sister-in-law of the dead couple.

Albuquerque Journal New Mexico 1954-01-13