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Thread: Laura Bush in Fatal Accident at 17

  1. #1
    Not really relevant to the election, but I found it interesting I haddn't heard this one before (especially with all the Mudslingng going on these days). No judgement on this, just posting it as info only.

    [u]From Urban Legend authority Snopes.Com[/u]

    [u][b]Claim:[/b][/u] While a teenager, future First Lady Laura Bush caused the death of a classmate in a car accident.

    [u][b]Status:[/b][/u] True.

    [u][b]Origins:[/b][/u] Driving is one of the most dangerous activities we engage in, and most of us do it every day, little realizing the peril of it. Every year in the U.S. there are approximately 6.5 million traffic accidents, resulting in about 42,000 fatalities.

    This is the story of one of those accidents. It resulted in the death of someone you've never heard of, at the hands of someone you have.

    In May 2000, a two-page police report pertaining to a fatal accident that had taken place near Midland, Texas, in 1963 was made public. It contained the information that 17-year-old Laura Welch had run a stop sign, causing the death of the sole occupant of the vehicle hers had struck. According to that report, the future First Lady had been driving her Chevrolet sedan on a clear night shortly after 8 p.m. on 6 November 1963 when she entered an intersection without heeding the stop sign and there collided with the Corvair sedan driven by 17-year-old Michael Douglas. Also in the car with Laura Welch was a passenger, 17-year-old Judy Dykes.

    How fast Miss Welch might have been driving is open to question. That part of the police report is illegible, although two biographies of the First Lady refer to her as having been going 50 mph at the time of the collision. The speed limit on that portion of road was 55 mph. According to the police report neither driver had been drinking, but no tests were performed. No charges were filed as a result of the accident.

    News accounts from 1963 reported the young man as having been thrown from his car and dying of a broken neck; he was pronounced dead on arrival at Midland Memorial Hospital. According to various biographies of Mrs. Bush, the boy's father had been travelling in a car immediately behind his son's and witnessed the whole thing.

    The two teen girls were taken to the same hospital and treated for minor injuries that amounted to bumps and bruises.

    Michael Douglas, the young man who was killed, had been a member of Laura Welch's crowd at high school and her friend. He had been a star athlete, excelling in track and football, and was looked up to by his peers not just for his athlete prowess, but for his personality and intelligence too. By all reports, he was likeable, outgoing, and funny. He was nominated as the school's most popular boy while a junior, an honor that almost always went to a senior.

    There has always been speculation about the nature of his relationship with Laura Welch. One rumor asserts the two had never dated, but that Laura had been romantically interested in him. Another claims he had been Laura's boyfriend when he died, and another that he had once been her boyfriend but the couple had subsequently broken up. (The latter theory is advanced in the 2002 biography of the Bushes, George and Laura: Portrait of an American Marriage, which states Laura Welch and Michael Douglas had dated throughout early and mid-1963, but by the fall of that year Michael was going out with Regan Gammon, one of Miss Welch's closest friends.)

    The accident is difficult to understand it that it took place on a clear night on dry pavement at a crossroads described as "the middle of nowhere," where the view was unobstructed and the stop sign that faced Laura Welch was clearly visible. (The intersection was a two-way, not a four-way, stop.) Yet looking to only weather and road conditions to explain what happened is to miss the obvious: there were two teen girls in the car, girls who were on their way to a party and thus who likely would have been bubbling over with chatter about who would be there. Laura Welch, the driver, had turned 17 only two days earlier. She and her passenger were still of an age when they could all too easily shut out everything going on around them, even the approach of another car and the recognition of a stop sign.

    There are those who want to believe the future First Lady deliberately and with malice aforethought murdered her (ex-)boyfriend over some now forgotten teen tiff and who point to what they view as the suspicious circumstances of the accident and the subsequent lack of prosecution as proofs of their supposition. Yet to entertain such a hypothesis is to believe the young woman would have attempted to kill another by doing away with herself. (As the driver of what was intended to be a murder weapon, she would have had no reason to believe she would survive a collision severe enough to be fatal to her prey that events turned out that way doesn't mean that outcome could have been reasonably foreseen.) Although the theory of "I'll kill you even though I have to kill myself to do it" might still play in a person sufficiently vengeance-minded (e.g., a suicide bomber), it is far better discounted in cases where an innocent life would also be taken (e.g., a passenger in the car). Those intent upon acts of revenge are generally impelled by a misguided sense of justice, and there is precious little justice (misguided or otherwise) in causing the death of innocent parties.

    Then there are the circumstances of the crash. It was 8 pm on a November night in Texas on roads far removed from any town, so it was dark. With no stop sign facing him, the doomed young man would have had no reason to slow his vehicle even if he had seen another car approaching the intersection. He therefore would have been travelling at least 50 mph. Laura Welch ran the stop sign facing her, so there is reason to assume she too was going approximately 50 mph, the speed she would have been doing if she'd had the right of way.

    Consider two cars travelling in the dark at right angles to each other, each going approximately 50 mph. The span of time available in which to form murderous intent would have amounted to mere seconds, given the speed at which the event was unfolding and how close the two vehicles had to be to one another before the ill-intentioned would recognize the vehicle of her target. It doesn't add up.

    One e-mailed version of the rumor tries to supply an answer to that inconsistency, saying, "She knew it was her boyfriend's car driving south, because of the unique headlight configuration of his 1962 Corvair Sedan." The vehicles were traveling at right angles to one another, so an unusual headlight array on one wouldn't have been visible to the other. (According to the experts, the headlight array on the 1962 Corvair was typical of the cars of the day; two headlights on each side, as this photo shows.)

    So 17-year-old Laura Welch did cause the death of a friend by running a stop sign, but to see more in the story than that is to surrender oneself up to baseless imaginings. Yes, it is always easier to attribute malice to bad outcomes, but that does not mean malice is an integral component of tragedy, especially those involving people Fate later chooses to exalt.

    According to George and Laura: Portrait of an American Marriage, Laura Welch did not find out that the driver of the other vehicle had died at the scene until later when she and her girlfriend were being treated at the hospital. And she did not learn his identity until later still, when her parents arrived and broke the news to her. It shattered her.

    She was barely 17 and she had taken the life of a friend. She has since carried the weight of this, and it changed her, at least according to those who knew her before and after. Only rarely has she spoken of this with the press (although she has often been asked), but even on those occasions her answers have been oblique, almost as if she cannot bear to think of it, let alone speak of it.

  2. #2
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    I've heard of this before but thought it was her fiance' that was killed in the crash.

  3. #3
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    [quote][i]Originally posted by Warfish[/i]@Sep 29 2004, 08:28 PM
    [b] Not really relevant [/b][/quote]
    Understatement of the year

  4. #4
    [quote][i]Originally posted by Piper+Sep 30 2004, 07:40 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>[b]QUOTE[/b] (Piper @ Sep 30 2004, 07:40 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-Warfish[/i]@Sep 29 2004, 08:28 PM
    [b] Not really relevant [/b][/quote]
    Understatement of the year [/b][/quote]
    Like I said Piper, just interesting info, regardless of relevance. And I thought it worthy of sharing.

    Lord knows, if Heinz-Kerry had been involved in such an event, many of the posters here would be hootin&#39; and holler&#39;in about how THIS was a prime example of Liberal Evil. :rolleyes:

  5. #5
    what&#39;s more relevant is the drunk driving arrest of Little Bush..and the coke habit..
    and the fact that he&#39;s slightly retarded..

  6. #6
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    [quote][i]Originally posted by bman[/i]@Sep 30 2004, 11:32 AM
    [b] what&#39;s more relevant is the drunk driving arrest of Little Bush..and the coke habit..
    and the fact that he&#39;s slightly retarded.. [/b][/quote]
    Don&#39;t forget suffering from acute alzheimers.

  7. #7
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    [quote][i]Originally posted by bman[/i]@Sep 30 2004, 09:32 AM
    [b] what&#39;s more relevant is the drunk driving arrest of Little Bush..and the coke habit..
    and the fact that he&#39;s slightly retarded.. [/b][/quote]
    That whole Pot and Kettle thing rearing it&#39;s ugly head again...

  8. #8
    [quote][b]Don&#39;t forget suffering from acute alzheimers. [/b][/quote]


    It&#39;s pre alzheimers.

  9. #9
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    [quote][i]Originally posted by bman[/i]@Sep 30 2004, 09:32 AM
    [b] what&#39;s more relevant is the drunk driving arrest of Little Bush..and the coke habit..
    and the fact that he&#39;s slightly retarded.. [/b][/quote]
    And yet... he is still ahead of the chump on the other side... :lol:

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