Prewitt, NM Two Car Collision, Aug 1958
8 DIE IN HEAD-ON CRASH.
PRE-DAWN CRASH NEAR PREWITT ONE OF WORST.
HIGH SPEED FUSES TWO CARS; OFFICER BLAMES FATIGUE.
Prewitt, N.M. (AP) - Two tourist-laden cars smashed head-on near this western New Mexico town early Wednesday, killing eight persons and injuring three others.
Wiped out in the terrific crash were a father, mother and two children of one family and the parents and one child of another.
It was one of the worst traffic accidents in state history.
The crash, which took place in the pre-dawn darkness on US-66 was blamed on driver fatigue.
Five of the victims, trapped within the twisted metal of the cars, apparently died at the scene of the accident. Three others died either at a hospital or on the way there.
State police said the dead are:
H. G. BRAGGS, age unknown, Route 1, Anniston, Ala., driver of a westbound car.
DANIEL P. SANCHEZ, 1020 Carson Ave., Las Animas, Colo., driver of an eastbound car.
EUGENE SANCHEZ, 6.
HOPE ESTRADA, 20, of 938 Carson Ave., Las Animas.
MRS. CURTIS JOHNSON, age unknown, Birmingham, Ala.
BEN FRANKLIN JOHNSON, about 2 months.
MARY LOUISE JOHNSON, 3.
and JANE M. SANCHEZ, age unknown.
In critical condition in St. Mary's Hospital in Gallup were IRA FRANKLIN BRAGGS, brother of one of the dead men, and CURTIS JOHNSON, in his early 30's, Birmingham.
Also in the same hospital but said to be in fair condition was 14-year-old DAVID SANCHEZ.
"It was the worst wreck I have ever seen," said State Policeman Bobby Fambro, the first officers to reach the crash scene. "It looked as though the driver of the westbound car had fallen asleep at the wheel and his car crossed the line in the highway. The impact point of both cars was the left front fender."
Fambro said the impact had smashed the westbound car backwards but had flipped the eastbound vehicle over on its top in a ditch.
"It sure was a mess," the officer said. "The speedometer in the eastbound car was frozen at 65 miles an hour. They must have hit before either driver could touch his brakes. There were no skid marks."
Police and mortuary employees said identifying all the victims might take some time as personal papers were strewn throughout the twisted wrecks.
All Are Trapped.
"They were all trapped inside the wreckage of the two cars," Officer Fambro said, "except the 140-year-old boy, DAVID SANCHEZ. He was lying several yards from the car. I guess because he was thrown clear is the reason he is in the best shape of all of them."
"A truck driver from Navajo Freight Line got to the scene of the crash just before I did," Fambro said.
"He got out and started directing traffic around the wrecked cars or we might have had some more fatalities."
The officers said rescuers had to fasten a towing car to the wrecks to get the doors open.
"Most of the people inside the two cars were unconscious," the officer said, "but a couple were hysterical and in shock. We had to pry parts of the vehicles apart to get most of them out."
Albuquerque Journal New Mexico 1958-08-21