John Edwin Elliott 1906-1954
Posted By: deb (email)
Date: 2/13/2019 at 17:32:55
the Burlington Hawk-Eye Gazette
Truck Driver Dies in Fire After Wreck
Vehicle Collides With Auto Being Pursued By State Policeman
A Burlington man died in the searing heat of a blazing wrecked bread truck Friday afternoon, following a collision with a Mount Pleasant driver's car near the village of Prairie Grove, about five miles north of the junction of highways 34 and 80.
The driver of the car was being pursued by a highway patrolman when the accident happened.
Killed was John Edwin Elliott, 48, of 1339 Ashman, a driver for Frudeger Bakery company.
Injured slightly were: Donald M. Oge, 35, Mount Pleasant, owner and reportedly driver of the 1946 Ford involved in the fatal accident.
William Buck, 61, Davenport, riding in the car.
Ron Greer, 19, Mount Pleasant, who claimed to be a hitchhiker picked up by Oge and Buck.
Oge and Buck were taken to Burlington hospital by Prugh's ambulance, where they were treated for cuts and bruises, then placed under police guard at the hospital.
Greer, found in a nearby cornfield shortly after the accident, was taken by highway patrolmen to Burlington hospital for treatment of a cut lip and eye. He was questioned, and, later, taken to the county jail where he was held as a material witness.
Oge, who denied he was driving the car involved in the fatal crash, was undergoing questioning by officers Saturday. No charges have been filed, but authorities said a manslaughter charge was being considered. Greer and Buck were subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury November 4.
The collision of the bread delivery truck and the car occurred about 2:50 p.m. near a sharp curve on the old Washington gravel road, about 500 yards north and west of Prairie Grove.
Elliott was driving eastward, approaching the curve, when the Oge car reportedly careened around the curve headed west, in an uncontrollable skid, and smashed Into the front of the truck, a cab-over-engine vanette.
The impact shoved the truck off the road and into a shallow ditch, while the auto spun around, stopping in the middle of the road and facing toward the turn it had just come around. Buck was thrown onto the road beside the car.
Oge's vehicle was badly damaged in front, the windshield was shattered, the seals torn loose, and a spot of blood soaked into the upholstery. Both vehicles remained upright.
The motor of the truck was shoved back against the driver's seat, apparently trapping Elliott. Fire soon broke out and enveloped the victim as well as the interior of the truck.
Greer got out of the car and left the scene. He was found in the adjacent cornfield by the landowner, Lester Beckman, West Burlington route 1, even as highway patrolmen, sheriff's officers and others scoured the area seeking him.
The youth told officers, "I got scared, so I just took off." Beckman quoted young Greer as saying that he was about ready to give up, anyway.
The Burlington rural fire truck and Chief H. M. Duke arrived to put out the fire and the Pleasant Grove fire truck also was called.
Before the blaze was extinguished, officers thought Greer might also have been trapped inside in an attempt to save the victim of the tragedy.
Greer claimed that the truck was not afire when he slipped through a fence and into the cornfield.
Highway Patrolman Don Platt was the first one at the wreck. He had been pursuing the three men in the car following a report that they had left the scene of an accident on highway 34 west of West Burlington a short time before.
The officer himself narrowly averted a collision with the wrecked vehicles. He found the truck enveloped in brilliant yellow flames, black smoke rolling away across the fields whipped by a raw north wind. Heavy, lowering clouds in a bleak sky completed a dreary picture.
Platt attempted to pull Elliott from the truck, but was driven back by the intense heat. His hand fire extinguisher made no headway against the flames. The gas tank did not explode.
When the fire was out, Coroner Robert O. Giles found most of the body was consumed. Numerous spectators, who had been busily talking, hushed as the body was taken from the charred vehicle.
Elliott was on his way from Pleasant Grove to the grocery store at Prairie Grove when he was killed. His route then would have been to Middletown and on through West Burlington to Burlington.
A Frudeger driver since February, Elliott had previously worked for Campbell Chain company and the Curtiss Candy company At one time, he was operator of the Standard Service station, 615 North Main.
His wife, the former Dorothy Nelson, has worked for Danez Candy Store. A son, John, is a Johnson-Rasmussen employee, and another son, Lawrence, is an employee of the National Research Bureau.
Only minutes before the fatal accident, the Oge car, headed west on highway 34, reportedly struck the car of Karl K. Thompson, 317 South 7th, at the west end of the detour around the widening project near West Burlington.
Thompson, manager of the W. G. Block company, said his men had just finished hauling concrete for the project when the Ford smashed into his car from the rear.
The force of the collision shoved Thompson's vehicle over a pile of stone and caused considerable damage to the rear of his car and the front of the Oge auto. Thompson chased the trio and stopped them at Bette's Motor court, highways 34 and 80.
The trio refused to give Thompson any information and threatened him, then drove rapidly north on the gravel road, according to the Block official. Patrolman Platt, driving by, was stopped and told of the incident. He set out in pursuit of the car, then ran onto the accident.
Meanwhile, other patrolmen in the area had been notified and were closing on the three men from all directions. Eight patrolmen and a deputy sheriff were among the authorities at the accident scene soon after the crash.
The death was the 519th in Iowa for the year, compared to 496 at the same time last year.
Sheriff R. J. Shook and patrolmen questioned the three men at Burlington hospital after the collision. From statements obtained, it appeared that Oge was the driver of the car, although he denied it, investigators said.
Greer said he was picked up at New London while hitch hiking to Mount Pleasant. He told officers that the car headed for Burlington, instead, and that several taverns here and in Gulfport were visited before they headed west again. All three refused blood tests.
If an inquest is held, it will be next week, Giles said. One or more of the three men were to face charges, officers said.
Police Captain Ted Behne said he was nearly hit by a car on Washington street which he believes was the one involved in the two subsequent accidents.
Elliott was born July 6, 1906, in Rome, Iowa, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John E. Elliott. June 3, 1924, he married Dorothy Nelson, in Galesburg, Illinois. He was a member of St. Luke Evangelical & Reformed church and the U. C. T.
Surviving are his wife; two sons, John and Lawrence, of Burlington; a daughter, Beverly, of Burlington; three sisters, Mrs. Bertha Russell in Texas, Mrs. Ruth Wilson of California and Mrs. Mamie Summerman of Weldon. His parents, a brother, Walter, and a daughter, Vivian, are dead.
Services will be Monday at 2 p.m. at Giles funeral home, Burial will be in Memorial Park cemetery. The Reverend Ernst Press will officiate.
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