Gaffney, SC Truck and College Bus, Oct 1987



By Janet S. Spencer.
Staff Writer.

Gaffney, S.C. - Amid moans and tears of grief, members of the Converse College woman's basketball team - injured themselves - were told of the deaths early Tuesday morning of three of the 16 persons traveling with them and the driver whose truck struck their van.
At the emergency room of Cherokee Memorial Hospital, personnel tended the "walking injured," made preparations to airlift one victim to a Charlotte hospital and transfer two to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center.
The college students made calls to their school and families relating the tragic events - their return home from a practice game with Wingate College near Charlotte interrupted by the 12:30 a.m. accident on I-85 in Cherokee County.
JO LYNN BENNETT, a freshman from Walterboro, remains in critical condition today - unchanged from yesterday - at Charlotte Memorial Hospital where she was airlifted Tuesday morning.
Killed were DEBBIE POWERS, 17, freshman from Walterboro; JULIE HAMILTON, 19, sophomore, Charleston; JOHN H. JONES, 60, Converse security guard who was driving the Converse van, Spartanburg; and ROBERT A. SWANN, 44, Charlotte, driver of the tractor-trailer truck which struck the Converse van in the rear.
Admitted to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center were DALE McCULLOUGH, freshman, from Kingstree in serious condition today and CINDY KNIGHT, a junior from Lanett, Ala., in good condition.
SHANNON MEEK, of Danville, Ky., admitted for observation, remained a patient at Cherokee Memorial Hospital this morning.
Treated and released from the local hospital were the coach, WILLIAM REITMEIER; KIM BRIDGES, sophomore, Chesnee; RENEE BROWN, Gainesville, Ga.; ANGELA DENTON, Athens, Ga.; SHEILA JONES, freshman, Roebuck; WANDA MOORE, freshman, Inman; DEIDRE PARK, Sylvester, Ga.; JAN ULMER, junior, Walterboro; and ANGIE WILLLIAMS, junior, Savannah, Ga.
While the Converse students band together in their grief, their Athletic Director Spencer Matthews said, "I can imagine that some might not want to play again," referring to the team's loss.
"We'll just have to pick ourselves up and walk again."
A memorial service is planned for Friday at Converse. Reports yesterday from the school showed the students supporting each other in their grief.
The impact of the accident locally has caused persons involved with sports to stop and think, Andy Solomon, director of communications at Limestone College, said Tuesday. "In my 15 years working with college basketball, I can't fathom the number of miles I've traveled on a bus and on a plane; can't estimate that in miles. Sometimes we take things for granted - that tragedies always happen down the street. The tragedy that happened in our county to the Converse team is close to us because we know some of the players involved - Limestone plays Converse in basketball."
Solomon said that he flown as far as Ireland and Mexico and been on trips as close to USCS to Limestone - all representing the college - and the only word to describe what happened in Tuesday morning's fatal accident is

Gaffney Ledger South Carolina 1987-10-21