Gap, PA Bus Crash Kills Seven, Dec 1969

Gap, Pa. a bus filled with party-bound women spun off a snow-slicked rural road Sunday, scattering gaily wrapped Christmas packages in a ditch and streaking the fresh snow with blood. Seven Women died.

The bus, chartered in Philadelphia by Chapter 68 of the Order of the Eastern Star, was bound for pre-holiday Christmas party at a Masonic lodge in Elizabethtown, Pa. it carried 41 passengers, mostly elderly women. Besides the seven killed, 33 women were injured. Two of the victims were thrown halfway out a window hen the bus careened off the road and were pinned under the vehicle until rescue workers could right it. "A lot of brightly wrapped Christmas packages were spread all over, all sizes of boxes," a witness said. "The snow was streaked with blood."

Descending a slippery mile-long hill on Route 30 the bus fishtailed off the road, rammed a utility pole and snapped high tension wire before it came to rest on its side at the bottom of a five-foot enbankment. G. Robert Eby of Gap, who was driving his car up the hill, pulled off the side of the road when he saw the bus swishing from side-to-side on the ice. "The snow was packed like glass" Eby said. "There were no cinders. The bus came down the hill sideways. It took off the electric pole and when the pole snapped fire flew from every where when the high tension wires were snapped. " I never saw such a mess like it and I don't want to see another one."

Eby ran across the road to the home of Frank D. Patterson to seek help. When he returned, he said the bus driver, Herbert Whyte, 59 of Philadelphia, was standing atop the badly-dented bus. Whyte was who was bleeding from cuts on his arms and head pulled some of the survivors out of the wreckage. Whyte and Patterson took a women into Patterson's home. Mrs. Patterson used a touniquet to stop the bleeding from the arm cut and cleaned up the driver's other wounds. Patterson and Whyte then returned to the bus. Patterson said nearly every bit of glass in the bus was shattered. "The driver was wonderful" Patterson said. " They had to drag him away to take him to the hospital." Patterson who is a truck driver said a truck containing salt was sitting at the top of Gap hill when the accident happened"