Not sure if this is the same accident, but it was the only one I could find in 1955, around a holiday, in Fulton County, Indiana.
Tuesday, September 6, 1955
Ray Charles Whittenberger,
Arthur Ray Whittenberger,
Joel DeVon Starkweather,
Charlene Starkweather and
Helen Lucille Starkweather
Five South Bend persons died early Sunday morning and two remain in a critical
condition at Woodlawn hospital in a one-car crash 2 1/2 miles south of Fulton on State Road 25.
It was one of the bloodiest accidents ever to occur on Fulton county highways and was the worst
in the nation for the three-day holiday.
Bodies were scattered over a 50-foot area as the Hudson automobile literally exploded
into two pieces, hurtling the front section some 54 feet from the back half.
Killed in the nation’s worst highway accident were Ray Charles WHITTENBERGER,
60; Arthur Ray WHITTENBERGER, 17, the latter’s son; Joel DeVon STARKWEATHER, 16; his
sistr, Charleen, 10; and another sister, Helen Lucille, 11, all of South Bend.
Hurt in the same crash was Mrs. Evelyn STARKWEATHER, 35, mother of the children;
and Walter Ray STARKWEATHER, a 13-year-old son. Both are in a critical condition at
Woodlawn hospital. No noticeable change was reported in their conditions by noon today.
The fatal accident, which occurred about 3:30 o’clock Sunday morning, left a grim scene.
One of Joel Starkweather’s arms was pinned in the wreckage, ripped from his body at the
shoulder, and his body was found some 40 feet from the twisted steel that only seconds earlier was
a whole automobile. Arthur Whittenberger was partially jammed through the glass on one of the
doors and the body and door were hurtled against a utility pole guy wire.
The South Bend vehicle was traveling south at a speed estimated at between 80 and 90
miles per hour. Sheriff Laurence NORRIS said it first swerved off the highway curve to the right
berm for about 275 feet, then came back onto the highway for another 120 feet and finally went
off on the east berm for 130 feet before striking a utility pole and a cement anchor fence post.
Authorities are not sure who was driving the car at the time of the crash, but Sheriff
Norris indicated that he thought the younger Whittenberger youth was behind the wheel.
Charles STARKWEATHER, father of these in the wreck, who rushed to Rochester upon
being notified of the tragedy, told Norris that the elder Whittenberger was driving when the group
left South Bend. He said that Whittenberger had never been known to drive more than 50 miles
A passing motorist from Osceola reported passing the South Bend car while he was
driving about 45 miles per hour and that later the car passed him at a speed in excess of 50 miles
The seven persons were enroute to a family reunion at Clinton when the mishap occurred.
In grim mockery, sandwiches were scattered throughout the wreckage and over the area.
Wednesday, September 7, 1955
Walter Ray Starkweather
Walter Ray STARKWEATHER, 15, South Bend, this morning became the sixth victim
of the nation’s worst holiday week end highway tragedy. The youth died at Woodlawn hospital of
injuries received in the accident which claimed the lives of five other members of his family early
Sunday morning south of Fulton on State Road 25.
The Starkweather youth, who sustained a fractured skull and internal injuries in the
accident, had been in a critical condition since the accident, about 3:30 o’clock Sunday morning.
His mother, Mrs. Charles STARKWEATHER, 35, is still in a critical condition in the hospital
The dead include Ray Charles WHITTENBURG, 60; Mrs. Starkweather’s father; Arthur
Ray WHITTENBURG, 17, his son; and three other STARKWEATHER children, Helen, 11,
Charlene, 10, and Joel 16.
The family was enroute to a family reunion at Linton when the car, said by authorities to
be traveling south at a speed between 80 and 90 miles per hour, went out of control and struck a
utility pole. The impact ripped the car into two sections and hurtled the front half some 54 feet
from the point of impact.
Investigation revealed that the elder Whittenburg was driving when the group left South
Bend but Sheriff Laurence NORRIS expressed a belief that the younger Whittenburg had assumed
the driving dries prior to the crash.
Charles STARKWEATHER, father of the boy who died this morning, had intended to
accompany his family but later changed his mind and remained in South Bend to do picket duty at
the Bendix Aviation Corp., where he is employed. He has been at the bedside of his wife and son
since his arrival in Rochester shortly after the accident.