In 1965, I was dispatched as a Highway Patrolman to a serious accident in front of the entrance to a cemetery. When I arrived, a sergeant and his motor squad were directing traffic, so I could investigate. There were 2 cars involved. One was a station wagon that was driven by a young mother and the other was a Chevy sedan driven by a 62-year-old male. Ambulance crews were loading victims into the ambulances. Everyone had been removed by the time I arrived, except two small girls from the station wagon. They were screaming as they were being removed. The third sister was already in an ambulance.
I was informed by the crew that both drivers were deceased and the first little girl was also deceased. Tragically, the other girls died after they arrived at the hospital. The oldest of the 3 girls was five years old, and the youngest was two years old. The accident was a head on and the cause of the accident was a blown right rear tire on the station wagon, causing the driver to swerve across the center line and strike the Chevy. There were no skid marks, since neither driver had time to react. I checked both vehicles, and discovered cord showing on the blown tire, which went over a rock in the road, causing it to blow out.
At the hospital, I found out that the woman and the girls were the family of an officer from a local city police department who was on duty at the time. It all occurred because of the poor condition of a tire. I was very thankful that I didn’t have to inform that officer that he had just lost his entire family. -BB
The author, Brian Smith, served four years in the United States Marine Corps, and retired as an Assistant Chief with the California Highway Patrol. He resides in Bakersfield, CA. If you have a personal “Coptale” to share, please contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org