Aged Man Victim La Grande Auto Crash
La Grande, Dec. 20. Fielding W. Hail, 68 years of age, was killed early this morning when a car driven by Ray Billups, of Walla Walla, left the road near Island City and overturned. Mr. Hail, who occupied the back seat, was thrown from the car, the crash fracturing his skull and causing internal injuries. He was dead when found about half an hour after the accident.
Mr. Billups and a companion, Lee Dunham, escaped with only minor bruises and scratches. They are being held on an open charge.
According to reports received by Dick Robertson, state traffic officer, who investigated the accident, the car was coming toward La Grande about 12:40 a.m. and failed to make the curve in the La Grande-Wallowa Lake highway just the other side of the bridge near Island City. The machine shattered a mail box and then somersaulted, landing from which it came. It is almost a total wreck.
The two men in the front seat were thrown into the river and made their way to safety. George McDonald who was near the scene, saw the lights of the car disappear and went to investigate, finding Mr. Billups and Mr. Dunham. The three made a brief search for Mr. Hail but, not finding him, they came to La Grande.
Face In Water
Mr. McDonald then returned to the scene of the accident, accompanied by Ben Hummelt, of the police force. They found Mr. Hail dead on the edge of the river, with his face dipping into the cold water. Traffic Officer Robertson gave as his opinion today that Mr. Hail crawled 25 to 35 feet to the water after the accident, presumably for a drink, and that he died trying to quench his thirst. He bases this, he said, on a bloody trail he traced from the wreck to the river bank.
After they returned to town, the two men from Walla Walla were placed under arrest. County Coroner F.L. Ralston, who left for Enterprise this morning, has not announced whether there will be an inquest. Officers expect a decision by him tomorrow upon his return.
This is the first traffic death here this year, officers say.
Oregon Trail Weekly
North Powder News
Saturday, December 22, 1928