The Wreck

My father loves to travel and I have been fortunate enough to see almost all of the U.S., Mexico and part of Canada.

It was August 1, 1964.  My dad, brother and I were just finishing a long tour of Mexico.  It was beautiful summer day.  The sky was full of big, white, fluffy clouds and the sun was shinning brightly.  We had just left a small town and were headed for El Paso, Texas by way of a two-lane highway when we stopped for lunch.  We don’t stay in motels, but only camped.  Our camper is a Volkswagon bus with camping equipment installed by the manufacturing people.

When travelling in Mexico you are advised to buy insurance because the insurance you have in the US isn’t valid in Mexico.  This insurance is valid for a specific number of days depending on the policy you get.  Our insurance ran out at 2:30, Sunday, August 1, 1964.

It was about 12:00 when we stopped for lunch.  We made a few sandwiches and drank a glass of milk or two. We were talking when my brother, checking his watch, said, “If you are going to have a wreck, dad, you better do it soon.” We took this lightly and laughed.

We cleaned up and started out once more.  We had gone about twenty miles and had just gone through a small town.  (Editor’s Note:  The small town was the village of Buenaventura, which means good journey.) There was a red pickup truck in front of us.  We followed the truck for a while.  When we reached a clear sopt on the road Dad started to pass.  We were on the left side of the road travelling about 50-55 miles per hour.  We we just behind the truck when for apparently no reason the truck abruptly turned into our lane.  Dad slammed on the brakes but too no avail.  We hit the truck broadside with tremendous impact.  We slid to a stop.  Dad asked Dick if he was hurt.  Dick told Dad he wasn’t but upon further examination Dad noticed Dick’s leg was pinned, broken and bleeding badly. Dad jumped out of the camper and ran to the driver of the truck and asked him about the location of the nearest doctor.  The driver said there was a hospital about 50 miles ahead. Dad told Dick and I to wait there till he got back with a doctor.  I noticed Dick had already lost a lot of blood and was still bleeding.  Dick and I both decided to flag down a car and try to get some help so we could get him out of the camper.  The first to come by was a white pick-up.  Luckily for Dick and I the driver was a man from Texas who offered to help me free Dick.  Almost simultaneously a bus stopped.  In the bus was another Texan.  The Texans took a steel bar and pried the smashed portion away from Dick’s leg.  They then carried Dick to the bus.  Together Dick and I rode the bus to the town of Nuevo Casas Grandes where Dick received treatment for his fractured leg.

The next day, upon further examination, the doctor at the hospital concluded that the leg needed to be set with a pin, but because of a lack of facilities the operation could not be done there.  They told us that there was a man with an airplane who could fly Dick to the hospital in El Paso.  Dad contacted this man and arrangements were made.

When the time came there was not enough room in the plane for me to go along so Dad told me to wait for him to return and then he and I would return to El Paso.

In about 5 hours, Dad returned.  We then went to the garage where the camper had been towed.  The mechanics managed to get the camper in running order. The next day Dad and I started the trip to El Paso with no windshield or right front door.  The trip to El Paso was about 170 miles.

When we reached El Paso, we first went to the hospital where Dick’s leg had been set to find out when he could leave for home.  The doctor said he would be ready when we were.  Repairing the camper took two weeks.  When the two weeks were up we picked up Dick and headed for home.  We were glad to be back for we had been gone about 5 weeks. This ended one experience I’ll never forget.

Editor’s Note:  I replaced Don’s use of “car” with “camper” to ensure references to the vehicle made sense to the reader.  This story is also told from my perspective in my story “International Adventure” elsewhere on this website.