Delores and Tina Lewis
Mother and Daughter
If you are a family person, you know the excitement of taking a family trip especially if it is to an amusement park. The kids get excited plans are made the car is tuned-up and nothing absolutely nothing is supposed to interfere with a family trip.
Such a trip was planned on June 4-6 in 1972. John Lewis his wife Delores, their 8 year old daughter Tina, and their 4 year old son Brian had made some exciting plans to attend Six Flags in St. Louis, Missouri. They drove from their home in Pierce City, Missouri and spent Monday June 5th in Six Flags. On Tuesday they went to the St. Louis Zoo, visited the Arch and then they started home around 5:00pm.
By 9:30 pm the kids had gone to sleep in the back seat. The Lewis car was in the outside lane of I-44 which is a four lane highway. The speed limit was 70mph and John was driving his 1968 Plymouth at 60mph. It was a clear night, there was not much traffic in either the east bound or west bound lanes. Nothing absolutely nothing, had gone wrong on this trip.
The Lewis family was unaware that across the median and in the east bound lanes was a driver who was estimated to be traveling between 100-120mph, a Waynesville, Missouri newspaper reported: "A car driven by Sgt. James Edward Locke Jr. 21 of Fort Leonard Wood according to the highway patrol was traveling east at a high rate of speed, ran off the right side of the pavement, skidded 600 feet, went across the median and struck the Lewis vehicle head-on."
Delores and Tina were apparently killed upon impact. Brian received a fracture of the left leg, and severe head and internal injuries. In the proceedings that would follow John would testify:
"Q. Now, would you just tell the court here, as you traveled down the highway there about 60mph, what happened?
A. Well, all I can tell you is that one minute we were sitting there talking, and the next minute I was trying to wake my wife up.
Q. What did you do immediately after the impact?
A. Tried to wake my wife up as soon as I came too.
Q. You don't know how long after the impact it was that you came to?
Q. You say you tried to wake up your wife, you remember that?
A. Yes sir I do.
Q. Was she in the right front seat?
A. Yes, she was.
Q. Did you say anything to her?
A. I asked her to wake up, asked her to please wake up.
Q. Was she unconscious at the time?
A. I thought she was.
Q. Do you remember what happened after that?
A. I remember somebody trying to drag me out.
Q. Drag you out of the automobile?
A. Yes, I don't know where I went.
Q. Do you remember being put in the ambulance?
A. I remember them dropping my leg on the ambulance.
Q. You remember them dropping your leg on the ambulance.
A. Yes picked it up and let it fall over.
John's leg was almost completely severed in the collision. It was John who had the responsibility of telling Brian that his mother and sister had been killed.
Their trip which had been planned so carefully and had brought such excitement had come to a devastating and crashing halt. It is a trip that John and Brian can never forget.
What does a man do when he loses his wife and daughter to a drunk driver? After being dismissed from the hospital, John and Brian recuperated at Delores' parents who lived in Granby, Missouri. Later, John returned to work walking on crutches. He continued to be active in church. He continued to work on his farm, and to be a good neighbor.
The tragic death of Delores and Tina touched the community in which they lived. Euah Hawkins wrote in the Granby Newspaper:
"The untimely death of little Tina Lewis and her mother Delores makes me want to pour all the liquor in the world in the ocean and see it churn up in the waves. While we know death is inevitable for all of us, it grieves us most when we must give up our young at eight and twenty-seven."
This story is filled with grief and hurt. However, there is at least one nice happening. Karen Charlton, Delores' sister was one of many who helped Nurse John and Brian while they were recuperating. Later on John and Karen were to marry.